Gambian president may become king

The Gambia’s title-obsessed president — he prefers to be addressed as His Excellency the President Sheik Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya Jammeh — may soon be adding a new one to his letterhead:  Tribal chieftains are touring the country to rally support for President Yahya Jammeh’s coronation. "The president has brought development to the country, and ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images
SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images

The Gambia's title-obsessed president -- he prefers to be addressed as His Excellency the President Sheik Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya Jammeh -- may soon be adding a new one to his letterhead: 

Tribal chieftains are touring the country to rally support for President Yahya Jammeh's coronation.

"The president has brought development to the country, and for that he deserves to be crowned King of The Gambia," said Junkung Camara, chief of the western region of Foni Brefet. "This is the only way the Gambian people can express our gratitude to a leader who has done a lot for his country."

The Gambia’s title-obsessed president — he prefers to be addressed as His Excellency the President Sheik Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya Jammeh — may soon be adding a new one to his letterhead: 

Tribal chieftains are touring the country to rally support for President Yahya Jammeh’s coronation.

"The president has brought development to the country, and for that he deserves to be crowned King of The Gambia," said Junkung Camara, chief of the western region of Foni Brefet. "This is the only way the Gambian people can express our gratitude to a leader who has done a lot for his country."

This would be very much in keeping for Jammeh, whose obsession with honorifics even led him to claim an admiralship in the fictitious "Nebraska Navy" earlier this year. 

Generally speaking, the global trend has obviously been away from kings in recent years. Nepal did away with its centuries-old monarchy in 2007. Members of the British Commonwealth may drop the whole institution after Queen Elizabeth’s reign ends. South Africa culled its tribal kings over the summer. Tiny Swaziland is now the only monarchy left in Sub-Saharan Africa.

As an opposition journalist quoted in the piece points out, Jammeh already has absolute political power so not much would change if he were made king, beyond yet another ego boost. Plus, the Kims have shown — and the Qaddafis and Mubaraks likely will soon — it’s quite possible to have hereditary succession while at least superficially adhering to a post-enlightenment political model. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Africa

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