Did he bow down to pressure again?
This news will surely be received with relief by human rights groups, notably the India based Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and the Trinidad based Caribbean Centre for Human Rights (CCHR), which have been at the forefront of the global campaign to bar the Gambian dictator who shocked the whole world with death threats for anyone who identify with human rights defenders. These organisations have been urging the Trinidadian government led by Prime Minister Patrick Manning to withdraw any invitation to the former military lieutenant who in 1994 overthrew a democratically elected government only to become a world wide recognized witch hunter, terrorizing innocent people, many of whom were old and feeble.
The CCHR as well as the CHRI have been opposed to Jammeh’s invitation to the Common Wealth heads of state summit for the statements he made in September on Gambian television, threatening to “kill anyone who wants to destabilise this country”.
CCHR executive director, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, a former independent legislator of Trinidad, said earlier in a statement that the Gambian leader’s violent declaration should not be condoned by her country.
“(Jammeh’s) statement openly repudiates the commitment which this country has always upheld, to adhere to the rule of law and the judicial process,” she said, adding “it is also a violation of the principles that the Commonwealth stands for and to which Trinidad and Tobago and the Gambia have subscribed by signing the Harare Declaration”.
The CCHR also said then that its chairman, Senior Counsel Desmond Allum, had written to Prime Minister Patrick Manning, as host of CHOGM, “asking him to withdraw any invitation to the Gambian tyrant, to attend a meeting in their country unless he withdrew his unbecoming statement.
A similar appeal was addressed to the outgoing Chairman of the group of former British colonies, Ugandan leader, Yoweri Museveni, by CHRI director Maja Daruwala, who called on the Ugandan leader to intervene over his colleague in the club of African dictators.
“In view of the universal condemnation and concern at the statements of the President of Gambia, CHRI strongly urges you to seek a clear repudiation of his (Jammeh’s) statement and a strong re-affirmation of his commitment to the values of the Commonwealth and in the absence of this to strongly recommend that no invitation be extended to the President of Gambia to attend the upcoming CHOGM in Trinidad,’’ the CHRI director’s statement read.
Given Yahya Jammeh’s disposition for arrogance and defiance of international statutory concurrence, it has since been obvious that he would not withdraw his ludicrous statement. It was therefore a matter of either the Common Wealth forfeiting its authority and principals to the wishes of an unrepentant oppressor or its sends a clear message that its principles take precedence of over those of individuals.
Jammeh is well known for his undesirable lust for self-aggrandizement, flamboyance and his uncompromisingly intolerant attitude towards freedom of the press. In April 2004, he called on journalists to obey his government “or go to hell”.