Are there lessons for EAC from Ecowas?


Yahya Jammeh had to be forced out of the presidency following an election defeat. Net photo

RE: “Realpolitik was at play in The Gambia situation” (The New Times, January 27).

President Nkurunziza is certainly more evil than Yahya Jammeh but they are both dictators who want to hold onto power by any means. Not acting against one doesn’t mean the other should be also left alone, the less the Jammehs and Nkurunzizas the better.

Ecowas has shown how it’s done and it’s now up to EAC to deal with their own Jammeh decisively.



International politics are not governed by normative principles of right or wrong, but by the narrow state or individual interests of those who make the decisions. In West Africa, there was a consensus among The Gambia’s more powerful neighbours (almost all the Ecowas members) that Jammeh had to go.

Here, in our own sub-region, the situation is different. Pierre Nkurunziza enjoys the support (sometimes covert but nevertheless solid) of some governments of sub-regional, regional and extra-regional powers.

Thus, neither the necessary sub-regional consensus nor the other conditions necessary for acting against him do not currently exist.

But even in Gambia, getting rid of a friendless Jammeh from a small country with an army of barely a couple of thousand soldiers is infinitely easier than what is required to ensure a peaceful and stable country from hence on.

I am afraid that the declarations and actions of President Adama Barrow and his people immediately after his electoral victory and before his assumption of power do not give me confidence that his governance will be any more competent.

Mwene Kalinda


What happened to Yahya Jammel could have happened to some other African leaders like Nkurunziza of Burundi had the leaders of EAC had a common understanding or will. However, as you rightly said, there are various reasons for this, among which are divergent national interests, personal relationships between leaders of different countries and reluctance to throw stones when they live in a similar situation.