Jahya Jammeh — the outspoken president

Today the FT reported Gambia’s decision to cut ties with Taiwan, a nation only currently recognised by 22 states. Yet Gambia’s foreign policy decision was delivered without a policy statement and was given without warning. Last month the international community suffered a similar outburst from Gambia, when it seemingly impulsively and again without a policy statement withdrew from the Commonwealth.

These political decisions, by the way they have been delivered, appear to be the unilateral actions of the president Jahya Jammeh. Both the Commonwealth and Taiwan, could find no reason for these sudden policy choices.

President Jahya Jammeh does come across as an eccentric. in 1994 he gained power in a bloodless military coup, and has held power ever since. In a run up to a general election, he was at one point quoted saying, “I will develop the areas that vote for me, but if you don’t vote for me, don’t expect anything”. His style of rule thus summarised, he has continued to carry airs of an autocrat. The 2011 elections he won were not monitored and produced a landslide victory. It appears therefore, that instead of developing away from the unaccountable military dictatorship of the 90’s, Jahya Jammeh has recently become more emboldened to carry out apparently unilateral foreign policy decisions.


N.B. A statement was given by Jahya Jammeh’s office concerning the decision to cut ties with Taiwan;

“This decision has been taken in our strategic national interest. We are proud that we have been a very strong and reliable partner of the ROC (China) for the past 18 years, the results of which are there for every Taiwanese to see,” [aljazeera]

In addition, it should be noted that Gambia is the second country to cut ties with Taiwan in Africa this week. Consequently the picture of Gambia I have portrayed as an irrational international actor is slightly tarnished. Instead I am led to suppose, a more rational supposition of greater economic ties with the ROC.


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