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Opinions of Sunday, 15 January 2017

Columnist: Owusu Sekyere K Jnr

Gambia - military intervention must be comprehensive & secure Gambia

By: Owusu Sekyere K Jnr

Recent elections and political activities in Africa and for that matter the west African sub-region continues to amuse critics, analysts, experts of security and international relations.

This amusement is in the paroquial interest of how some African leaders view democracy.

They subscribe to the tenets of democracy when it favours them, and make a *U-turn* when it doesn't.

It is also interesting to note that whiles some leaders opt for a smooth transfer of power, others throw tantrums and are determined to halt the wheels of progress in their country.

The West African sub region is witnessing a contrasting episode of two elections which depicts the above narrative.

Ghana and Gambia

Whiles Ghana has moved on democratically and peacefully, Gambia has not and gradually opening the flood gate of insecurity because of a leader who is pretending not to understand what democracy is all about. But how long can he pretend? If pretending like an ostrich is his option, then that's unfortunate.

The stark reality is that the current impasse is nothing more than a leader whose U-turn is fueled by a sudden greedy shift in ideology and using religion as a basis to stay in power.

Folks, below is what Africa or the West African sub-region should watch out and consider in tackling the evolving crises in Gambia

*Jammeh's Posturing*

1. Jammeh has clearly moved from a non-elected president to a dictator with an extremist tendency. And this is unequivocally dangerous. Once his actions continue to lack constitutional basis, then Gambia is not safe.

2. By extension, he is an illegality overseeing a legal territory which is not healthy for the West African sub-region in terms of image.

3. His unjustified use of Islam as a shield and basis to stay in power is not only wrong but exemplifies the modus operandi of extremism. He could motivate and rally terror groups by this posture.

4. He seems prepared for a violent encounter or a military onslut and not ready to go down alone.

*What Could Be Motivating Jammeh*

1. Possible motivation could come from some members of the international community who may have an exclusive interest in Gambia.

2. Another motivation could come from extremist groups or terror organisations who may have promised to wade in should conflict break out.

3. Corrupt members of Gambia's military may also be his source of motivation.

*Way Forward - If We Chose The Military Option*

A West Africa military offensive should be holistic, completely initiated by the West African States and no other foreign involvement. This is to avoid a Syria, Iraq and Libya episode where multiple interests could fester proxy wars and provide the platform for extremism or terrorism.

A West Africa military offensive should be precise/ limited, swift and timely. This is to avoid massive casualties, quickly return to democratic governance in Gambia and further strengthen the West African region.

The process of peace building when initiated, should include building the capacity of the military of Gambia so as to insulate the country from reprisals or an attempted coup.

In all these, let's not allow Gambia to slip into the hands of terror organizations such as Boko Haram, Alshabab or AQIM; bearing in mind terrorist organisations are looking for opportunities to expand their frontiers.

Owusu Sekyere K Jnr.

Security Analyst