QUESTION OF THE DAY
In my book the “The Impasse” which will be published after we put the three year / five year thug of war behind us I did mention that after the 19th January 2017 when President Barrow assumed executive power, Jammeh had no Constitutional power backing him to remain as a Head of state. He was constitutionally a private citizen living in the state house without a constitutionally granted executive mandate. He had the choice to leave peacefully or fight to the end.
The concern I was mandated to address was to assess the position of the law enforcement and security forces of the country. While Jammeh was still in the state house the loyalty of the security forces could not be taken for granted. Hence I had to be in constant touch with the spokesperson of the security Chiefs, the former Inspector General of Police, now Minister of Interior, Hon. Yankuba Sonko to monitor where the loyalty of the law enforcement and security forces resided.
The issue of how Jammeh would leave the statehouse was a security issue to be determined by the Gambian security forces which was my domain as the spokesperson of the President and The ECOWAS which had mobilized a standby force . The invisible role of the Gambian security forces is underreported and I will reveal the details in my book.
ECOWAS had the option to order its troops to enter the Gambia to accompany Barrow to the state house and protect him as the legitimate president of the Gambia through military might, which was fraught with unimaginably violent consequences or negotiate with Jammeh as a former president to leave the state house in a peaceful manner.
Knowing the mind of the security chiefs I constantly counselled the president and the ECOWAS stakeholders that since the security forces were loyal to the Constitutionally elected government, a peaceful transfer of power was a more realistic option to armed invasion.
I had no hand in the negotiation with Jammeh. I did not sign any declaration on behalf of president Barrow. An APRC official had to apologise after making such an allegation in the past. Some people are still making allegation that I signed a declaration and accompanied Jammeh to the airport.
I was informed of Jammeh’s willingness to leave a day before he was due to depart after the threat of war increased on the 20th January. On the 21st, it was leaked that Jammeh would be leaving thus leading the coalition supporters to invade the airport, I was called by the security forces to intervene to move them from the airport because of a warning that Jammeh would not leave unless the coalition supporters left the airport. There was the threat of a clash between the coalition supporters and Jammeh’s supporters who accompanied him to the airport. In addition to the call I received from the security forces to intervene, I received a call from Mr. Ousainou Darboe, Dr Isatou Touray and Mr Omar Jallow among others requesting me to step in. I went to the airport without body guard not knowing whether I would be made a human shield when I arrived. I would not reveal the emotional state of some of those who requested for my intervention to show the degree of risk I had to take to fulfill the mission of dispersing the coalition supporters to avoid a fracas that may have delayed Jammeh’s departure and increase the risk of war.
This is how matters stand.