Today, the Gambia’s internationally recognized president, Adama Barrow, took the oath of office at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal. The incumbent, non-recognized president, Yayha Jammeh, remains in power in the Gambia. But Jammeh is quickly losing the support of his own circle: his vice president and some nine cabinet ministers have resigned.
- Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, in office since 1997
- Minister of Foreign Affairs Neneh MacDouall-Gaye, foreign affairs minister
- Minister of Finance Abdou Kolley
- Minister of Information Sheriff Bojang
- Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, and Employment Abdou Jobe,
- Minister of Tourism Benjamin Roberts
- Minister of Health Omar Sey
- Minister of Environment, Climate Change, Parks and Wildlife Pa Ousman Jarju
- Minister of Youth and Sports Alieu Jammeh
Who does that leave in the cabinet? According to a cached copy of the government’s official website, Jammeh had a twenty-member cabinet as of early January, which included him, the vice president, the secretary general, the head of civil service, and sixteen ministers (with Jammeh taking at least one portfolio, Defence).
Jammeh is quickly replacing some of those who resign, although the cascade of resignations has made for constant reshuffling – Roberts, for example, had been moved from Tourism to Finance just two days before he resigned.
Here are some of the remaining officials and new appointees:
- Musa Jallow, Head of the Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs
- John Gabriel Gomez, Minister of Youth and Sports (appointed January 9)
- Seedy S.K. Njie, Minister of Information (appointed January 9)
- Momodou Alieu Bah, Minister of the Interior
- Bala Garba Jahumpa, Minister of Transport
- Ebrima Njie, Deputy Minister of Works and Infrastructure
- Fatima Singhateh, Attorney General and Minister of Justice
- Musa Amul Nyassi, Minister of Lands and Regional Government
The list is undoubtedly inaccurate in part. Wikipedia gives a somewhat different list, which includes a few different names and few more portfolios.
The point is that Jammeh has lost about half of his cabinet. The rationale for resigning is not hard to follow: cabinet members are putting their fingers to the wind and deciding that either (a) Jammeh is bound to fall, and they don’t want to fall with him or (b) if Jammeh stays, he will be so isolated that their lives will become extremely unpleasant. Either way, sticking with Jammeh is clearly seen, increasingly, as a career-killer – and there is international acclaim to be won even for those who jump ship at the last minute.
So far, the defections are limited to the cabinet (and the mayor of Banjul) – and have not extended significantly to the parliament, which has approved both a ninety-day state of emergency and a ninety-day extension of Jammeh’s term. Nor have the defections extended to senior military, although Chief of Defence Staff General Ousman Badjie has reportedly said that his soldiers will not fight with forces from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should they intervene to topple Jammeh.
Between the political defections and the military’s reluctance to fight ECOWAS, it looks increasingly like Jammeh’s days are numbered.
If you have any additional/better information about the remaining cabinet members, I urge you to share it in the comments.