Executions of Prisoners: Fear Hangs Over Diplomatic Rupture With Senegal


By Amat JENG

It was about an hour-and-quarter before we entered a new chapter of our lives – September 2012, which will never rebound until the characters in this magnum opus part with the World. Here, in the heart of the Senegalese capital, Dakar, yet still the debate is going on the radio, TVs and even on the internet about the current state of affairs unfolding in The Gambia.

The providence of the volatile peace between The Gambia and sister Senegal is hanging in the balance of probability, as Senegal is pulling up shocks to ensure the discontinuity of the latest fist that Jammeh punches on their faces, following the news of the executions of nine prisoners including two Senegalese nationals, Tabara Samba, who was on death row for killing her husband, and Djibril Ba respectively, who was also found guilty of murder. The duo was among the nine prisoners that have been reportedly executed by firing squad, carried out by the Jammeh regime on Sunday, 26 August.



The Senegalese President, Macky Sall, who was on an official visit to South Africa, cut short his visit after being phoned about the news of inundations that claimed five lives in Dakar. Upon arrival at the Leopold Sedad Senghor International Airport, he met his prime minister, Abdoul Mbaye, who unveiled the news of the executions of the two Senegalese in neighboring Gambia.

To his dismay of the action of a country he first visited when he came to power last April, Macky Sall was sort of words, but was able to say something like: “I have demanded the prime minister (Abdoul Mbaye) to summon the Gambian Ambassador and to notify him of Senegal’s position on the executions.

This was reasonably a diplomatic boomerang President Sall directed to the Gambian Head of Mission in Dakar, who must have been sitting on a hot iron, having known that Senegal will react to the executions of its citizens and that the job of diplomacy had now become more complicated, thanks to the action of a man, believed to be a protégée of the constitution.

The Senegalese president did not say ‘if the Gambian Mission fails to show up’, instead he says “If he is not there on time”. This is an ‘ordre obligatoire’ (compulsory order), interpreted as a diplomatic molest, employed by frustrated leaders before the emergence of the interdisciplinary field of study called ‘International relations/studies’ in 1648.

In the diplomatic front, Senegal has already taken its first step to averting a replica of a political wrangling that had handicapped the two countries’ economies and held their citizens to ransom, hence the summoning of the Gambian Mission.

This ambassadorial move by Senegal was neither a strategic choice to sow chaos nor a Rambo-style step aims at violating the Vienna convention of 1963 on Consular matters, but a line of diplomatic attack.

Senegal Seeks Sanctions Against Jammeh

Macky Sall denounces the executions and garners support from the international community and NGOs to slap Jammeh with sanctions, whilst at the same time calling on Jammeh to save the life of the third Senegalese, Saliou Niang, who is on death row at Mile Two, the Senegalese Press reported.


What sanctions? What sanctions should be meted on a head of state who many people believe implemented the law of the land? Any action to weaken Jammeh economically will be identical to staggering the Senegambia region from side to side.

However, whilst some Senegalese go east, others still take to the west. One of those that goes to the west, was Fodel Barro, Coordinator of ‘Y en a Marre,’ said the action was just a “tip of the iceberg.”

But Mariatou Ciise, a second-year university student, who had always been inspired by Jammeh, goes east and says: “the executions were constitutionally right and justifiable.”

Unlike some Senegalese, she is in support of what had happened, citing Iran, the US, Saudi Arabia and other countries as example.

“These so-called human rights activists are illogical. What about America, the biggest human rights violators? They are killing prisoners sentenced to death by law. Who questions them?” she asked.

Abdoulie Hadiya, a religious scholar, told Enquette, Senegal’s whistle-blowing newspaper that even in Islam, the law of execution was valid. However, he added that it remained unclear whether it was the Shari’a that motivated Jammeh to carry out the act. “We are not certain that it was the Quran that inspired him (Jammeh) to act this way,” he said.

Senegalese that thought of Jammeh as an ‘angel of mercy’ and a paragon of Afro-centrism that has come to save the continent from neo-colonialism, held their heads in sway.

Notwithstanding, Jammeh has been regarded by some Senegalese, especially university students as an obedient purveyor of anti-imperialism, whose propaganda of Jammehism has helped forestalled crimes and restored peace in Gambian societies.

Makers of Peace vs Makers of Noise

The president of the International Society for Human Rights in The Gambia, Sheikh L.T.Louis, has applied the principles of valid interference and correct reasoning to bring peace, than saber-rattling.
In a constructive meeting with Senegalese Civil Society Organisations on Friday, 31st August,2012, Mr Lewis made it crystal clear to them that neither ‘beating drums’ nor ‘dancing to the tune’ was a political solution to the current status-quo.

“Actually, it was only dialogue that could solve the problem. Otherwise, the present situation risked continuing,” he was quoted by Le Pop, a Senegalese Newspaper, as saying.

However, Mr Lewis, against all odds, refused to diabolise President Jammeh before the Senegalese press and NGOs.

Instead he says: “Jammeh has sworn that he was the guardian of the constitution. I know Yahya Jammeh. I talk to him often. He was someone humane, contrary to what some people think. I know he has regretted what had happened. He does it, because it was the law.”

The Cassamance Conundrum

According to Lewis, President Jammeh once told him that Senegal and The Gambia have the same commonalities, but polarized by imperialism.

During Macky Sall’s visit to The Gambia, Lewis continued, Jammeh told him that what Sall does, if Wade has done it initially, then peace would have been in Cassamance.

With this paragraph, many political analysts would come out with the question ‘Who is who in the Cassamance war?’

Diede Ba, Reuters Dakar Correspondent and Office Manager, says the Cassamance conundrum remains his country’s weakest point.

The seasoned journalist posited: “We were a weak nation when it comes to the Cassamance war.

Jammeh has a bigger task before him. He has to work his fingers to the bone to convince Senegambians that what he did was in no way related to anarchism, but a constitutional requirement.
I do not want to sound like an alarmist, but Macky Sall has a question to answer: ‘Why the ongoing military exercise somewhere between Sokone and Karang’ ?

Amat JENG is a Gambian journalist, blogger and social media activist. He is the editor and publisher of the blog: www.mediarevolution-amat.blogspot.com

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