It seems that the UK doesn’t have much influence or interest in its former colonies anymore and our government is far too busy with Brexit to get involved, we haven’t as far as I can see really said or done very much about any of this. The French president Francois Hollande has been to visit president elect Barrow in Senegal but has anyone from the UK government been to see him or the Gambian government, it doesn’t appear so. I don’t recall hearing Boris or anyone else in our government even discussing about The Gambia. I just hope that behind the scenes we are in fact doing more than it appears. ECOWAS have given Yahya Jammeh until midnight GMT to step down and declared that as of tomorrow he will no longer be the recognised leader of The Gambia. Senegalese troops are moving to border preparing to invade, it doesn’t look like Jammeh is going to see sense so either tomorrow or in the coming days there is going to be a war. The Nigerians have sent their best battleship and also their air force no doubt hoping that this would be enough for Jammeh to get the message but clearly not. Also a few days ago Nigerian MPs voted to grant Jammeh asylum one would have hoped that the threat of military invasion would make him see sense and realise that retirement to Nigeria would be his best option. The arrival of the Nigerian Air Force is perhaps slightly worrying since they’ve just accidently bombed a refugee camp in their own country killing possibly over 100 innocent people.
The British Army have for a little while had military advisors in Nigeria helping them to fight the Boko Haram terrorists and the government there has requested their help in planning an invasion of Gambia. Apparently we haven’t responded to this request but I hope that we will step up and agree to this and provide any further military assistance to ECOWAS that they might require. I suspect if we don’t Monsieur Hollande might well step in and offer French assistance proving that perhaps the UK doesn’t have much influence in the world anymore.
The Gambia only has 900 soldiers and apparently many of them were seen dancing in the streets after the election result was announced and Adama Barrow declared the winner, if it does come to war I hope this means it will all be over very quickly. The worrying question is just how many soldiers may be loyal to Jammeh and how willing are they to fight a war they can’t win, resulting in a civil war which could cause significant civilian casualties. If there is a civil war one has to hope it is short lived, but even if Jammeh lost the election there are presumably still plenty of people who voted for him and who might support troops who decide to fight for him. It’s awful to think how many innocent people may die because of this despot and his intransigence, a very worrying situation.
Purely on a side note, I often refer to the country as Gambia, but the BBC had someone on the radio this afternoon explaining that the correct name is ‘The Gambia’ that it’s been called this ever since it was named by Portuguese navigators after the river and that because it's named after a river using the word 'The' is correct. Also following independence the government decided they wanted the name to stay ‘The Gambia’ rather than become Gambia in order to try and avoid the obvious confusion with Zambia that would likely arise when that country became independent. The only other country that also has ‘The’ as part of its correct name is The Bahamas, given that things could very ugly it’s perhaps a little trivial to be concerned about the country’s name, but as I didn’t know which was correct I thought this was quite interesting.