“If you always follow others, you can never lead” – President Yahya Jammeh

“If you always follow others, you can never lead” – President Yahya Jammeh
  • PublishedOctober 24, 2013

Q | In terms of other institutions, there is the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is now led by a Gambian woman who served under your government, Mrs Fatou Bensouda. What are your views on an institution like that, which has been the butt of a lot of criticisms from many Africans, including African governments and even the African Union?

The ICC, as far as I am concerned, is not a colonialist institution; it came into being not long ago, maybe less than 10 years ago if my memory serves me right. However, as we do with many other international institutions, as we have done with the Commonwealth, we Africans are fond of jumping into these institutions very quickly. We become members at a stroke of a pen, ratify our allegiance first and then read the text later, and only then do we realise what we have got ourselves into. And usually, it’s too late.

I have warned my colleagues that we must be very careful about jumping onto one bandwagon after the other. We jump into every bus without knowing the destination. And then when the [driver] stops in hell and asks the Africans to drop off, we find ourselves asking; why are we here? We have accepted everything created by the West without even questioning anything.  

But coming back to the ICC, and speaking as an African, not just a Gambian and a Muslim, don’t forget that the African continent constitutes the largest bloc in the ICC and it is on the back of this African bloc that the ICC rose to its feet very quickly. I made it very clear from the outset that before we accepted and made a resolution on the ICC, we have to understand what it was for, because we have burnt our fingers on several occasions before. But everybody said the work of the ICC was very clear.

Then came the indictment of President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan. Some African leaders were for and others were against the indictment of a sitting African president without even informing the AU. Who can indict a European president or prime minister without informing the European Union? This was an insult.

And then they said the indictment came as a result of the UN Security Council to which Africa is not a permanent member.  

Be aware that there are two ways of getting somebody to stand trial at the ICC: either by an individual country referring the accused or the case may be filed by the Security Council. Now when I hear my colleagues complain about the ICC, I feel ashamed because, apart from the case of President Bashir, all the other cases before the ICC were referred by African governments themselves. Do you understand?

For example, the cases in Kenya, the case in Côte d’Ivoire of former President Laurent Gbagbo who was not arrested by the ICC, but by his own people, their own government, and handed over to the ICC. As far as I know, there is not a single case, apart from that of President Bashir, which an African government didn’t refer voluntarily to the ICC. Then we turn around and say the ICC is racist and is targetting only Africans. If it is only Africans, no one else, referring cases to the ICC, we cannot blame that Court for trying only Africans. If Africa does not want the ICC to treat African cases, then don’t refer cases to the ICC.

Q | You don’t therefore at all agree with the notion that the ICC targets Africans because Africans actively chose to refer  cases to the ICC out of their own free will?

I do not agree and I will never agree to it [that the ICC targets Africans]. I have made it very clear that if we Africans have a problem among ourselves, in fact it is very shameful that, instead of being brave and putting it before the AU and letting our continental body sort it out, we want to use international institutions to solve our problems.

Q | So you must be very proud of what Mrs Bensouda is doing at the ICC?

She is an international civil servant. I am proud not because she is a Gambian, I am proud because she is an African woman. This was a post that initially was not meant for Africans, but today if Africans head an institution I think we should work with the institution. I am not defending the ICC but I am defending the truth.

Written By
New African

2 Commentaires

  • Let Gambian leader open democratic space in his country and not hide behind interests of Africa violated by the West.

  • Now we know that this story was paid for by the former dictator for around £80, 000.00. We were surprised by the journalistic line NewAfrica took in interviewing this demagogue of a president who siphoned off millions from poor people of our country to pull off a publicity stunt with this magazine. What a shame NewAfrica has reduced itself to!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *