Monday, January 23, 2017

Sanders Discussed ECOWAS Key Role on Eve of Gambian Crisis; What is Next?

Although Gambian crisis is over, during the tense days prior to the resolution, Ambassador Sanders, who had served as the U.S. Government's Permanent Representative to ECOWAS highlighted the issues, and underscored the importance the unity of ECOWAS was playing in the resolution of the crisis. Sanders appeared on Al Jazeera English (AJE) January 18-19 as the crisis was reaching a crescendo as the deadline for former President Jammeh departure reached crisis stage and as ECOWAS further stepped up its pressure on Jammeh and as President Adama Barrow was sworn in as the country's new president in Senegal. Jammeh had ruled Gambia ruthlessly for 22 years.

But What Is Next?

The question now is whether or not Jammeh will get away with impunity, which would not serve the resolution of the crisis well. Democracy is several things: freedom of speech, association, the press, free and fair elections, and respect for the rule of law, which includes not getting a pass on impunity. Sanders notes this in her AJE interview that as Sub Saharan Africa (SSAfrica) continues to have mature democratic processes and it also must show that leaders who break the law, and steal from the wealth of their nation must answer for their crimes. Despite Jammeh being given exile in Equatorial Guinea, EG, (an interesting choice given that EG's leader has behaved similarly to Jammeh over nearly as many years), it will be important for the SSAfrica region to demonstrate that impunity is no longer an acceptable practice in the SSAfrica. If the reports are true that Jammeh and his family have amassed more than $USD22 million, put scores of people in jail, and violated the human rights and dignity of so many during his 22 year rule than the next step in the democratic process will be to address these issues and concerns. We need to hope that it does take 40 years, like it did with former Chadian leader, Hassan Habre, to be brought to trial. That being said ECOWAS has demonstrated key strategic leadership that the African Union has yet to do. Congrats to ECOWAS and in particular, Presidents Sirleaf, Buhari, and Macky Sall, the latter also for his democratic leadership and support for African nations remaining in the #International Criminal Court (ICC), and on finally ensuring that Habre stood trail.  See the AJE interview at: