As a man of peace, President Yahya Jammeh continues to play a major role in peace making and peace keeping in West Africa, other parts of the Continent and in the World at large. His expressed commitment to the principle that “development on the Continent will never be possible without lasting peace and stability” is exemplified by the indefatigable efforts he deploys and his success achieved to this end.
In the West African sub-region, President Jammeh initiated the ECOWAS Mechanism for Conflict Resolution, which was formulated and designed in Banjul, which became designated as one of the peace observatories in the sub region.
The Historic Guinea-Bissau Handshake brokered by President Jammeh
|President Jammeh, in October 1998, succeeded in bringing to the negotiating table President Joao Bernardo Vieira and General Ansumane Mane for their first face to face meeting in Banjul since the two were locked in a fratricidal struggle for power in Guinea Bissau. From Banjul, President Jammeh flew with the two men to attend the ongoing 21st ECOWAS Summit. In Abuja, the two men signed the Abuja Accord which called for the establishment of a Government of National Unity, the withdrawal of foreign troops and the deployment of ECOMOG, the military intervention unit for ECOWAS.
Significantly President Jammeh made sure that President Nino and General Mane travelled with him in the same special flight to the Abuja Meeting, and stayed an extra day to oversee the signature of the Agreement.
Although the Peace Accord was short-lived, President Jammeh continued in his efforts to avert the escalation of the conflict in Guinea Bissau. Accordingly when the deposed President Vieira was reported to be in poor health and under house arrest, the Gambian Leader intervened on humanitarian grounds for the Bissau authorities at the time to allow the ex-president to travel out of the country. The Gambia Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Lamin Sedat Jobe was sent to Bissau to accompany Vieira to Banjul in a special flight for medical treatment in the Gambia prior to proceeding to Portugal for asylum.
The Gambia was one of the first to send in February 1999 a Contingent to make up the 600 ECOMOG troops charged with the responsibility of enforcing the cease-fire agreed by the ECOWAS Heads of States.
|“You will never see the baboons of one country take up guns to go and terrorise the baboons in another. Only human beings.” - Yahya Jammeh||President Jammeh’s peace initiatives and objective demarches contributed immensely to the restoration of democracy in Guinea Bissau through multi party general elections under the supervision of the United Nations and the assistance of friendly countries including The Gambia.|
The mediation efforts of President Jammeh in the quest for a peaceful settlement of the conflict between the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) and the Government of Senegal brought new hope for peace to be enjoyed again by the population of the Southern Region of Senegal after nearly two decades of war and the loss of more than 1200 lives. Again Banjul was the platform in June 1999, for peace negotiations which President Jammeh facilitated and which was welcome and hailed by the two parties in conflict. Much progress was made and for the first time there was general optimism that peace and stability would return to Casamance.
Against this backdrop former Senegalese President Abdou Diouf and MFDC leaders agreed that The Gambia should continue to host subsequent meetings and negotiations until the conclusion of a lasting peace.The new Senegalese Head of State,President Abdoulaye Wade has equally recognised the need for Gambian mediation in the conflict. On his part, President Jammeh has express his willingness to join forces with others committed to the search for the rapid and lasting solution to the internecine conflict in Casamance.
President Jammeh is concerned about the conflict involving Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Republic of Guinea which is destroying the very foundation on which the Mano River Union was built with great expectations for their people, for sub regional integration and for African Unity. At the very early stage of the crisis The Gambian President played a very important role in bringing about direct talks in Abuja between the warring factions of Liberia. Spending 16 hours in non-stop dialogue with the Liberian warlords, the Gambian leader personally undertook the herculean task of convincing the Liberian warlords of the need to have direct dialogue. This marathon mediation effort led to the Liberian warlords embracing each other as brothers for the very first time since the Liberian civil war broke out. Battle hardened Liberian Generals broke down in tears on that day.
In 1999, the US Embassy compound was under seige by the Taylor regime and it was thanks to the mediation of President Jammeh that President Taylor allowed the Americans to evacuate Roosevelt Johnson and his militants from the US Embassy compound to Sierra Leone.
Early in the Sierra Leone conflict President Jammeh was the first leader to offer to mediate between the Sierra Leone Government and the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) led by Foday Sankoh. In the same vein the Gambian leader has played host to the respective leaders of the countries of the Mano River Union (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Republic of Guinea) on a number of occasions, and has himself visited all three countries.
In pursuit of his historic mission for peace for all especially in neighbouring countries and the ECOWAS sub-region President Jammeh, made a two- day visit to Sierra-Leone to give hope to and as a mark of solidarity with the Government and people of Sierra Leone who yearn so much for peace and stability. President Jammeh, who was visibly moved by the sight of the Sierra Leonean amputees assured the people of Sierra Leone that he would forever be on a mission to ensure that such atrocities never occured again in this world.
As recent as April 2001, President Charles Taylor paid a one-day visit to The Gambia at the end of which President Jammeh succeeded in eliciting from President Taylor a commitment to resolve the erstwhile problem between him and President Kabbah of Sierra Leone and President Conte of Guinea regarding the expulsion of the Ambassdors of Sierra Leone and Liberia in a fraternal manner. Furthermore The Gambian President is currently actively involved in the ongoing mediation efforts to forever silence the guns and restore lasting peace in the sub region.
President Jammeh, President Kabbah & little Memuna, a victim at the Amputee Camp in Sierra Leone.
|The President’s efforts to restore regional peace has also been characterised by a humanitarian dimension as attested by the various refugee camps in The Gambia which have become safe havens for refugees fleeing violence and the ravages of war especially from Sierra Leone and Casamance and at one time Guinea Bissau.As part of its effort to improve conditions in camps, especially at the Kerr Alhassan Camp, A program of food-for-work has been instituted among other positive community schemes.|
As a champion of African Unity, following the footsteps of the great panafricanist the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, president Jammeh deployed every effort to solve the protracted Libyan-Western impasse following the Pan Am bombing. Thus the Gambian Leader who had sponsored during the Annual Meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries in 1997 the famous motion denouncing violence as a weapon of solving problems by the Islamic world, initiated the process to see to it that the whole truth about the alleged Pan Am bombing was brought out in the open to bring relief to the families of the victims as well as Libyan people who had for long suffered under the sanctions imposed because of the bombing allegations.
The courageous efforts of the Gambian Leader bore fruits with the Libyan Leader handing over the two suspects to the Netherlands Courts in the presence of a Gambian delegation led by the Gambian Foreign Minister Dr. Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe. President Jammeh’s proactive diplomacy to establish the truth and thereby eliminate any excuse to continue to subject innocent people to exploitation and suffering has been widely hailed.
A major consequence of the conclusion of the Pan Am saga has been the redynamisation of the move towards African Unity with Libya now playing a major role in this historic process. This eloquently demonstrates the political foresight, sagacity and genuiness of President Jammeh in all his actions within his own country or abroad. Through such efforts the Gambian Leader is promoting a positive image of Africa not as a land of terrorists but a continent where if peace and stability were given a chance would develop its vast resources and eradicate poverty.
In the area of peace keeping, The Gambia’s record is exemplary and internationally recognised and appreciated. In Africa, Gambian troops have been sent to Sierra Leone and Ethiopia/Eritrea. In far away East Timor and Kosovo Gambian troops form part of the UN as peace-keeping forces. In all these conflict areas, Gambians have, in the image of their youthful, committed and peace-loving President, performed with distinction and honour.
Since the Gambia became independent in 1965 and joined the United Nations in that same year, it only became a member of the Security Council for the first time in 1999.
The Security Council being the organ of the United Nations charged with the responsibility for the maintenance of international peace, Gambians membership to this august body is an eloquent expression of the recognition of The Gambia’s exemplary record of peace, democracy and stability under the leadership of President Jammeh.
For The Gambian President Dr Alhagie Yaya Jammeh, peace and stability are not mere slogans; rather they should constitute a better way of life not only for Gambians but also for all Africans struggling to escape from poverty and to humanity as whole. Riley Dixon Womens Jersey