ECOWAS, AU, UN to ensure Jammeh’s liberty to return to Gambia when he chooses

The ECOWAS, African Union and UN have said they would work with the new Gambian government to ensure that former President Yahya Jammeh was at liberty to return to the country when he wanted.

The former president left Banjul on Saturday to go into exile after he was pressurised by the ECOWAS to rescind his earlier decision not to accept the outcome of Dec. 1 presidential election, which saw him losing to the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow.

Mr. Jammeh’s return would be in accordance with international human rights law and his rights as a citizen and a former head of state, they stated in a joint declaration in Banjul.

They commended the “goodwill and statesmanship” of the former president for facilitating “an immediate peaceful and orderly transition process and transfer of power to President Adama Barrow in accordance with the Gambian constitution”.

They also commended him for his interest in the Gambian people and preserving the peace, stability and security in the country.

The declaration stated that Mr. Jammeh’s departure from The Gambia on Saturday was temporary adding that it was in order to assist a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power and the establishment of a new government.

The blocs noted that his leaving was without any prejudice to his rights as a citizen, a former president and a political party leader.

They further assured that host countries that would offer “African hospitality” to the former president and his family do not become undue targets of harassment, intimidation and all other pressures and sanctions.

They also committed to work with the current government to prevent the seizure of assets and property lawfully belonging to Mr. Jammeh or his family and those of his cabinet members, government officials and party supporters.

“Further, ECOWAS, the AU and the UN commit to work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that it fully guarantees, assures and ensures the dignity, security, safety and rights of former President Jammeh’s immediate family, cabinet members, government officials, Security Officials and party supporters and loyalists.

“ECOWAS, the AU and the UN urge the Government of The Gambia to take all necessary measures to assure and ensure that there is no intimidation, harassment and/or witch-hunting of former regime members and supporters, in conformity with the Constitution and other laws of The Gambia,” they stated.

The regional organisations said they would work with the government on national reconciliation to “avoid any recriminations”.

They also assured that they would take all measures to support the maintenance of the integrity of the security forces and guard against all measures that would create division and a breakdown of order.

“Pursuant to this declaration, ECOWAS will halt any military operations in The Gambia and will continue to pursue peaceful and political resolution of the crisis.”

Meanwhile, President Adama Barrow has said he would return to The Gambia on Monday.

Mr. Barrow confirmed this on his twitter handle, @adama_barrow, on Sunday.

He said: “I will be returning to my homeland, the Republic of The Gambia tomorrow. #Gambia.”

Mr. Barrow, who took the oath of office in the Gambian Embassy in Senegal on Thursday, has assured citizens who fled that “they now have the liberty to return home”.

He succeeded Yahya Jammeh, who lost in the Dec. 1 presidential election and refused to vacate office when his 22-year rule expired midnight on Thursday.

 

Source: NAN

Senegalese troops take over Gambian border as Jammeh’s mandate ends today.

Yahya Jammeh, the Gambia’s longtime president, was holding out in the capital, Banjul, on Thursday after last-ditch diplomatic efforts to persuade him to stand down appear to have failed.

The country has been in a state of political uncertainty since Jammeh refused to cede power to the winner of last month’s presidential election, using the courts and parliament to try to extend his 22-year rule.

His mandate ended at midnight but he has steadfastly refused to hand over to Adama Barrow, prompting west African states to ramp up pressure on the president. A contingent of Senegalese-led troops is positioned on the border.

The Mauritanian president, Mohamed Abdul Aziz, flew into the country for last-minute negotiations on Wednesday, but left without the Gambian president on board.

The sun rose over an eerily quiet country on Thursday morning. No businesses were open. No Gambians were on their way to work and none of the usual groups of tourists, many of whom were leaving after the declaration of a state of emergency on Tuesday, were hailing taxis in the streets.

Fears of violence have prompted tens of thousands of people, many of them children, to flee the Gambia through its land borders.

Across the country, Gambians had waited to see what would happen on the stroke of midnight, when Jammeh’s reign officially came to an end. Hiding in their homes, many had spent the previous day stocking up on supplies and queuing at banks for cash. But midnight came and went.

Troops positioned over the border in Senegal, sent by five west African states and poised for military intervention if regional diplomatic efforts failed, did not roll in.

The incoming president remained in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, where he was apparently preparing to be sworn-in.

“You are all welcome to my inauguration today 4pm at the Gambian embassy in Dakar,” read a post on a Twitter account for Barrow that his media officers said they were running. Senior members of the new ruling coalition had vowed that the inauguration would take place on Gambian soil.

The swearing-in ceremony is to be held two hours before the UN security council decides on a resolution by Senegal asking it to give its blessing to military intervention.

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Soldiers from Nigeria, Mali, Togo, Ghana and Senegal make up the regional force, but it is being led by a Senegalese general and has the backing of the 15 member countries in the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which has repeatedy called on Jammeh to stand down.

Jammeh’s army chief said late on Wednesday his troops would not fight their entry into the country. “We are not going to involve ourselves militarily. This is a political dispute,” the chief of defence staff, Ousman Badjie, said after eating dinner in a tourist district close to Banjul, witnesses told Agence France-Presse.

“I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight. I love my men. If they [the Senegalese] come in, we are here like this,” Badjie said, putting his hands up in a surrender gesture.

The country’s vice president, Isatou Njie-Seedy, who has held her position since 1997, became the latest and the most senior in a long string of Jammeh’s ministers to resign, according to reports from Reuters.

Only security forces and protocol officers remain by Jammeh’s side, according to government sources.

Four young men selling “Gambia Has Decided” T-shirts were arrested, according to rights groups, and held incommunicado.

HAPPENING: British tourists crowd Banjul airport hoping to board evacuation flights

There were chaotic scenes at Banjul airport in the Gambia on Wednesday as tourists scrambled to leave the country after its embattled president announced a national state of emergency.

British tourists who were hoping to soak up some winter sun were repacking their bags and boarding buses from resorts across the small west African nation as tour operators decided to evacuate their customers in response to a change in Foreign Office advice.

The country’s long-time president, Yahya Jammeh, announced a national state of emergency on Tuesday, prompting the Foreign Office to change its travel advice, warning against all but essential travel because of the political crisis.

Jammeh is due to hand over to the president-elect, Adama Barrow, at midnight on Wednesday but has so far refused to cede power, using the courts and parliament to try to extend his 22-year tenure.

Barrow has vowed to take office on Thursday regardless of whether Jammeh leaves. “Our future starts tomorrow,” he was quoted as saying in a tweet, adding that his supporters made history when they elected him in December.

Barrow is currently in neighbouring Senegal for his safety, and it was not clear how or where the inauguration would take place.

“This never happened before,” said Robert Gwynne, a tourist from Swindon who has been coming to the Gambia for 11 years and who had to leave two days into his two-week holiday. “I don’t understand what’s going on. The government shouldn’t have let it go this far. This place is going to be dead. I feel sorry for everybody here. It’s going to take years for tourism to pick up again. I’ll make the effort, but only if I’m 110% sure it’s safe.”

Local hotel staff were worried that their livelihoods were at risk.

A group of British tourists wait for their bags to be unloaded from a coach at Banjul airport.
A group of British tourists wait for their bags to be unloaded from a coach at Banjul airport. Photograph:

“I’m very sad. We don’t want our guests to go,” said a porter at one of the hotels. “And us Gambians have to stay. It’s our country and there’s nowhere to go. It’s dangerous. But in three days it will be over.”

Banjul airport was in chaos, full of tourists trying to manoeuvre their luggage to the few check-in desks, many not knowing whether they would get on a flight out. Few were appraised of the political situation.

“We had a rough idea, but the guy who was supposed to have left hasn’t left, has he?” said Phil Denton, from Southampton, who was sunbathing shirtless outside the airport. “I’m more worried about the airport, to be honest. It’s the ideal situation for a terrorist attack.”

Charlotte Burril tried to navigate her bags through one of the snaking queues of bronzed and concerned-looking tourists, having learned just a few hours earlier that she would have to get on a plane out. She had not anticipated that being on holiday at the same time as the planned handover of power would be a problem. “We didn’t think it was much of a risk, really. The sad thing is the impact on the staff. As long as nothing actually happens, as long as it blows over, I’d come back,” she said.

Nevertheless, the impact of the unrest on Gambian tourism will be long lasting, according to Sheikh Tejan Nyang, the vice-chair of a tourism association in the Gambia.

“It’s too late. If he [Jammeh] doesn’t leave by today we’ll have to get these guys to get him out. I am sure that won’t take long, but the damage has already been done. There is panic. People are moving away for the country,” he said.

Yahya Jammeh’s plane on tarmac at airport in Banjul
President Yahya Jammeh’s plane at the airport in Banjul, where it has been parked for two weeks.

“With all the tour operators withdrawing clients, it’s going to be a big blow. Most of the hotels will close, people will lose their jobs and be living in hardship,” he said.

Tourism accounts for 18-20% of the country’s revenue. Nyang said he thought it would drop to less than half that and would have to be rebuilt just as it was after the coup in which Jammeh took power in 1994.

Jammeh was personally to blame, he said. “He is the biggest culprit. He is the worst enemy of this country, and he has disappointed the country. People have changed their minds. They have had 22 years of dictatorship and they say enough.”

Outside the terminal, Jammeh’s plane sat in the middle of the tarmac, as it has done for the past two weeks, according to airport officials. The president, who could face prosecution for the arrests and disappearances that happened during his tenure, has received several offers of asylum from other countries, in particular Morocco, but has so far not taken them up.

JUST IN: Nigerian, Senegalese troops on standby as President Buhari jets out to the Gambia

There is apprehension in The Gambia as the Information Ministry yesterday said President Yayah Jammeh would not step down when his mandate ends on January 18, in spite of his electoral defeat.

The autocrat, who ruled the small West African nation for 22 years, will remain in office until the Supreme Court decides on a petition filed by Jammeh. According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Jammeh is challenging the result of the December 1 presidential election. But the President-elect, Adama Barrow reiterated he was planning to take office on January 19, as scheduled.

Observers fear that the refusal of Jammeh to accept the outcome of the election, which is causing delays to the planned handover of power, could lead to violence that will cripple social and economic development of the country.The Gambia’s ‘current dysfunctional’ Supreme Court had adjourned hearing Jammeh’s petition till January 16 since only one of a required minimum of five judges was present.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari will today jet out to Banjul, the capital of The Gambia and thereafter proceed to Bamako, the Malian capital to attend the 27th Africa-France summit holding from January 13 to 14, 2017.

In Banjul, President Buhari, as the mediator in The Gambia, is scheduled to meet with Jammeh and Barrow to continue dialogue on the political impasse in the West African country. Buhari will be joined by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government; President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone; and the immediate past President of Ghana, John Mahama, who is the co-meditator of The Gambian mission.

A statement from the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday said the Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence, convened by French President Francois Hollande is aimed at strengthening cooperation between France and African countries in the areas of peace and security, economic partnership and development.

Recognising the role played by France in the successes so far recorded in the implementation of the regional initiative against terrorism, President Buhari will reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to global efforts on the war against terror and underline the need for improved collaboration to address the menace of terrorism in the region.

It was learnt yesterday that the Nigerian Army had raised an army battalion that would be deployed in troubled The Gambia to forcefully remove Jammeh from power if he failed to step down on January 19.A report by an online publication, PREMIUM TIMES indicated that the battalion, christened ECOMOG NIBATT 1, was drawn from the Army’s 19th Battalion based in Okitipupa, Ondo State.

Personnel were also drawn from other formations and units across the country due to shortage of men at 19 Battalion which has a significant chunk of its troops deployed for internal security task force, Operation Delta Safe.

According to the report, the Army Headquarters has instructed the nominated officers and men, put at over 800, to immediately report at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji, for a crashed course on counter-terrorism and counter insurgency.

The Army Headquarters has also instructed the directorates of policy and plans; finance; and logistics to get ready funds, arms, ammunition and other logistics for the operation. The Armoured Corps is also working hard to get ready armoured vehicles needed for the task, the online publication said, quoting official sources.

There were suggestions by some of the sources that the Nigerian Air Force and the Navy might deploy men and equipment for the operation as well.Top military officers said the Nigerian Battalion would be deployed in The Gambia anytime after January 19 if Jammeh makes real his threat not to step down after the expiration of his tenure.

“This is an emergency operation, but we are ready,” one officer said. “The Nigerian Army is a strong, professional fighting force battle ready at anytime. We are so well structured that we can deploy at the touch of a button.

“We did it in Liberia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere. And Jammeh should know that we are not a joking force. Once we get it all clear from ECOWAS, the AU and the UN to move in, we can pick him up.”

The regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), had on December 23 put standby military forces on alert.The ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel de Souza, said Senegal, The Gambia’s only territorial neighbour, would lead any military operation in the country. Other West African countries will be mandated to provide troops as well, Mr. De Souza reportedly said.

However, at President Buhari’s meeting with security chiefs at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday on the prevailing insecurity in southern Kaduna, the Niger Delta and other parts of the countr, the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Dan-Ali clarified that no conclusion had been reached on the issue of standby force to be deployed to The Gambia.

He added that the matter of forceful removal of Jammeh would be handled by ECOWAS.Jammeh lost the December 1, 2016 The Gambia presidential election to opposition candidate, Barrow. He initially accepted defeat and congratulated Barrow but changed his mind and decided to challenge the outcome of the election. He also vowed not to hand over to the winner as expected on January 19.

 

Source: Guardian

President Muhammadu Buhari heads to Gambia on ECOWAS mission

President Muhammadu Buhari is to visit Banjul, capital of The Gambia, on January 13 to mediate in the political crisis in the country.

Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday.

In Banjul, Buhari is scheduled to meet with President Yahya Jammeh and President-elect Adama Barrow.

The meeting is in continuation of dialogue on the political situation in the West African country.

Adesina said Buhari would be joined by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS heads of state and government, and President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone.

John Mahama, the immediate past president of Ghana, who is the co-meditator of The Gambian mission, will also join the ECOWAS leaders.

The statement said later on January 13, the president will travel to Bamako, Mali to participate in the 27th Africa–France Summit.

The summit for partnership, peace and emergence, convened by French President Francois Hollande, is aimed at strengthening cooperation between France and African countries in areas of peace and security, economic partnership and development.

He said Buhari would reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to global efforts on the war against terror and underline the need for improved collaboration to address the menace of terrorism in the region.

Adesina said Buhari would also use the opportunity of the summit to underscore the efforts his administration was making to improve Nigeria’s business environment to attract more foreign direct investment.

“The president will be accompanied by Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo, the ministers of foreign affairs, interior and defence,” Adesina said.

Gambia: Jammeh seeks reconciliation, appoints mediator with Barrow

A day after the country’s Supreme Court advised an out-of-court settlement, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has appointed a mediator to liaise between him and the President-elect Adama Barrow.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Emmanuel Fagbenle, Gambia’s Chief Justice, advised the settlement after ruling that the court could not hear Mr. Jammeh and his party’s appeal against the result of the presidential election due to non-formation of constitutionally required quorum of 5 Supreme Court judges.

Mr. Fagbenle advised Mr. Jammeh and his party to either adopt the West African ECOWAS peace initiative led by President Muhammadu Buhari or utilise Gambia’s Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism .

On Wednesday, Mr. Jammeh appointed a mediator to facilitate meetings between himself and Mr. Barrow.

Mr. Jammeh, who ruled the small West African nation with an iron fist for more than two decades, refuses to accept the result of the December 1 presidential polls, which saw him lose power.

Mr. Barrow, a former real estate agent, who was little known before he announced his candidacy, is scheduled to take office on January 19.

The ruling party’s secretary general will mediate between Mr. Jammeh’s supporters and the opposition to “resolve any mistrust and issues,” Mr. Jammeh said in a televised address to the nation early Wednesday.

He refuses to accept the election result because it was “full of arithmetic errors and anomalies, it also could not be credibly explained,” the outgoing president added.

Mr. Jammeh ordered the justice minister and national assembly to draft a general amnesty bill, while issuing an executive order not to arrest or prosecute citizens for “acts or omissions’’ committed during the pre and post electoral period, between November 1 and January 31.

The announcement comes a day after the Supreme Court postponed hearing on a court petition filed by Mr. Jammeh to challenge the election results.

The case was adjourned to Monday, since only one of a required minimum of five judges was present, the court’s registrar said.

Several West African heads of state meanwhile postponed a meeting with Mr. Jammeh aimed at helping to resolve the political crisis from Wednesday to Friday.

JUST IN: Gambia’s Information Minister ‘Quits In Protest’ Amid Political Unrest.

The Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang has resigned to protest President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept defeat in December’s presidential election.

In a statement, he said that efforts to contest the results are “an attempt to subvert the express will” of the Gambian people.

The state television however reported that Mr Bojang had been sacked.

“The Gambia has decided and we must accept and respect this decision,” he said, quoting a popular poster slogan which has been effaced by soldiers in the capital Banjul in recent weeks.

Bojang confirmed the authenticity of the statement to Reuters via telephone from neighboring Senegal.

The minister made headlines in October by announcing that Gambia intended to leave the International Criminal Court, calling it the “International Caucasian Court”.

Jammeh’s opponents hope Bojang’s departure might signal further departures from among allies within the country who retain control of the army and other state institutions.

This comes after the UN Security Council has called on President Jammeh to step down.

He initially accepted that opposition leader Adama Barrow won the election, but then reversed his decision, citing electoral “abnormalities”.

Foreign Minister Neneh Macdouall Gaye resigned in December, though her decision attracted little publicity.

Many officials and businessmen have fled the country, fearing a crackdown by the former lieutenant who seized power at aged 29 in a 1994 coup and is accused by rights groups of jailing and killing his critics.

Gambia’s Supreme Court postpones hearing in Jammeh’s petition

Gambia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday postponed hearing in a petition filed by outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to challenge the results of the Dec. 1 presidential election which he lost to Adama Barrow.

The court’s registrar said “the case has been adjourned until Jan. 16, since only one of the required minimum of five judges is present.’’

Mr. Barrow, a former real estate agent who was little known before he announced his candidacy, was scheduled to take office on January 19.

The postponement of the case came one day after the Communications Minister, Sheriff Bojang, stepped down and fled the West African nation.

Mr. Bojang said he resigned because Mr. Jammeh’s refusal to accept the outcome of the presidential election was disregarding the will of the people.

On Monday, several West African heads of state resolved to intervene in Gambia’s political crisis after meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja.

They were expected to arrive in Gambia to meet with Mr. Jammeh, who ruled the country for more than two decades on Wednesday.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the UN and the African Union are also expected to take part in the dialogue and call on Mr. Jammeh to respect the country’s constitution.

During an earlier meeting in December, West African heads of state failed to convince Mr. Jammeh to permit peaceful transition of power.

Some observers fear that delays to the planned handover of power can lead to violence.

We may resort to the use of force if Jammeh refuses to step down – ECOWAS Leaders

West African leaders announced they would return to The Gambia this week to try and persuade President Yahya Jammeh to step down, but said the use of force remains an option.

The mandate for Jammeh’s five-year term expires on January 18, after which president-elect Adama Barrow is supposed to take power.

But the strongman, in power for 22 years, has vowed to stay in office until a dispute over the election result is resolved, despite becoming increasingly isolated at home and abroad.

They will impress upon Jammeh “the imperative to respect the constitution”, Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, told reporters in Abuja on Monday.

There are worries in The Gambia over worsening security, a potential refugee crisis and a media crackdown that has taken several radio stations off air.

And while Onyeama said a peaceful transfer of power was preferable, force could be used. “Violence should be avoided but nothing is ruled out,” he said.

The regional leaders made a previous attempt at mediation with both sides in the electoral dispute in mid-December, a couple of weeks after the poll, but failed to make a breakthrough.

In Banjul, Jammeh sacked his Information Minister Sheriff Bojang and replaced him with a National Assembly member who was appointed this month as the ruling party’s spokesman.

Bojang had previously managed The Standard Newspaper, which was closed in 2012 after criticising Jammeh’s regime. A statement carried on Gambian public television on Monday did not give a reason for his dismissal.

A foreign ministry source on Monday confirmed that Jammeh had also fired ambassadors to 12 nations, apparently for disloyalty.

All the envoys had expressed support for Barrow in late December, and asked Jammeh to step aside and respect the result of the December 1 vote, which delivered the opposition leader a narrow victory.

“I do not know why President Yahya Jammeh terminated their services, but I can tell you that these are the ambassadors that congratulated and endorsed President-elect Adama Barrow for his election victory,” the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

– Judge shortage? –
Authorities also refused to release from custody the former director-general of Gambia’s state television and radio broadcaster, despite a court decision to grant him bail.

Momodou Sabally was arrested on 8 November 2016 along with a colleague after broadcasting images of the opposition when Jammeh’s wife was due to appear, according to Human Rights Watch.

On Monday the Banjul High Court ruled that he should be bailed, but the National Intelligence Agency holding Sabally refused to comply when presented with the order, judicial staff told AFP.

Meanwhile it appeared increasingly clear there would not be the requisite number of judges Tuesday sitting for Jammeh’s Supreme Court case against the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), where he is seeking to have the election result overturned.

Nigerian and Gambian legal experts told AFP that although five Nigerian judges and one from Sierra Leone had been invited to hear the case, none had responded.

The Gambia relies on foreign nationals as judges due to a shortage of nationals with the requisite training and experience.

Jammeh and his political party have now lodged three separate legal complaints with the Supreme Court alleging manipulation of ballot counting by the IEC and intimidation of supporters.

Gambian legal expert Aziz Bensouda said a quick resolution was unlikely and constitutionally Jammeh still had to step down by the end of his official term.

“In the absence of a court and the pure impossibility of the parties being served in time to appear and enter a response, it seems that an adjournment of the case will be the most likely outcome,” he said.

Jammeh’s own lawyer Edward Gomez told AFP earlier he did not know how many judges would appear on the day.

Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle is the panel’s only sitting judge, as the Supreme Court has lain dormant since May 2015.

Tension and uncertainty has gripped the Gambian capital, with the US embassy sending non-essential staff and family members out of the country, as well as urging citizens not to travel there.

A statement issued Monday by the US ambassador described Tuesday’s court case as “a potential flashpoint that could lead to civil unrest.”

Sahara Reporters: How Nigerian Serving As Gambia’s Chief Judge Is Working To Keep Jammeh In Office

Justice Emmanuel Oluwasegun Fagbenle, a Nigerian and incumbent Chief Justice of The Gambia, is working behind the scenes to provide legal support for President Yaya Jammeh’s bid to perpetuate himself in office after being defeated at the polls, SaharaReporters has learnt.

President Jammeh, who has ruled the country for 22 years, conceded defeat to the opposition candidate, Mr. Adama Barrow, but turned around to reject and unconstitutionally nullify Gambia’s free and fair presidential election. His action has provoked widespread condemnation from the international community, with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) threatening to militarily evict him from power if he fails to respect the democratic wishes of Gambians.

President Jammeh used the excuse of errors in the vote tally, ignoring the insistence of the country’s Independent Electoral Commission that the winner remains Mr. Barrow, who won with a revised count of 227,708 votes to President Jammeh’s 208,487.

President Jammeh’s party, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), subsequently filed a legal challenge against the election results, a constitutional move complicated by the fact that Gambia’s Supreme Court is not known to have a panel.

The Gambia Bar Association (GBA), in a statement dated  December 12, described President Jammeh’s declaration of the poll results a nullity as an act of treason and rejected his party’s announcement of its readiness to file an election petition against the result.

The GBA contended that given that the country’s Supreme Court has not had a sitting since May 2015 because of the absence of a panel, there is no legitimate legal mechanism available in The Gambia to hear and determine the election petition filed by President Jammeh. The association warned that it would be against the principles of natural justice for President Jammeh to appoint Supreme Court judges to hear a petition filed by him or on his behalf and called on him to respect the wishes of the Gambian people as expressed in the results of the election. It noted that a Supreme Court empaneled by President Jammeh for the purposes of his election is tainted

“That would be tantamount to one being a judge in his own case, considering that the outgoing President has already pre-empted the outcome of the court process by declaring the election results as a nullity,” the GBA wrote.

The GBA is, however, unaware that President Jammeh had been working in the background, with the support of the country’s Chief Justice, Nigeria’s Justice Fagbenle, to impanel the Supreme Court.

President Jammeh said top Gambian judiciary sources, since October, had secretly appointed judges to his country’s Supreme Court from Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The appointments made, said sources, was kept as top secret by Justice Fagbenle.

Of the six judges appointed, impeccable sources told SaharaReporters, five are Nigerians. They are Justices Habeeb A.O Abiru, Abubakar Datti Yahaya, Abubakar Tijani,

Obande Festus and Akomaye Angim, a  former Chief Justice of The Gambia. The sixth judge is Justice Nicholas Colin Brown, Sierra Leonean.  The appointment of the Nigerian judges was based on request from Justice Fagbenle to the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mariam Aloma Mukhtar.

It remains unclear whether they have all accepted their appointment to seat on appeals before the Gambian Supreme Court.

The judges were originally slated to sit from  January 11 to 19, 2017, but the current political developments, disclosed sources, have forced them to start considering a request for deferment of the sitting or rejection of their appointment.

A top source told SaharaReporters that Justice Abiru has decided to reject the appointment and already scheduled a meeting with other members who share his view so that they can communicate their position to the Chief Justice of Nigeria this week.

Justice Fagbenle did not just start working hand-in-gloves with President Jammeh. In a letter dated 12 December and exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, the GBA called for Justice Fagbenle’s resignation from office, citing his conduct during the country’s presidential campaign as the basis.

“The position of the Chief Justice is a constitutional position, and as head of the third arm of government, you are expected to maintain and uphold certain standards. You have, in our considered view, woefully failed to adhere to these standards,” wrote the GBA.

Specifically, the GBA noted that Justice Fagbenle is in President Jammeh’s pocket, a situation that has brought disrepute to his office.

The GBA observed that before and during the campaigns, Fagbenle was appearing at the rallies of President Jammeh’s party.

“On the day of the nomination of the incumbent president, you were seen in front of the court premises waving and dancing in support of the incumbent presidential parade. Several members of the Bar saw you wearing APRC apparel on court premises. You were distributing APRC apparel to the court staff and making preparation for the victory celebration of the incumbent president,” stated the GBA.

In addition to these, the GBA said Justice Fagbenle’s tenure has been principally devoted to President Jammeh’s scheme to perpetuate himself in office. Notably, explained the lawyers’ association, Justice Fagbenle caused the dismissal of judicial officers presiding over cases involving the government of President Jammeh when they made decisions considered unfavorable to the state.

“In the case of the State v Ousainou Darboe & Ors, you caused the presiding judge to expedite the hearing of the case and their conviction. You transferred the case of the State v Lamin Sonko & Ors to the High Court sitting at Mansakonko. There was no basis for the transfer of the case, as the Mansakonko court had no jurisdiction to hear the case. This action was calculated to ensure that the defendants could not get legal representation, thus easing their conviction. You further failed to respond to the letter from the counsel representing the defendants protesting the transfer. You gazetted new rules for the Supreme Court without following due process. You further failed to respond to the GBA when it protested the action,” said the lawyers’ association.

 

Culled From Sahara Reporters.

Barrow assures Buhari, other ECOWAS leaders Jammeh won’t face prosecution

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh will not face prosecution on leaving office, a spokesman for the opposition coalition that backed president-elect Adama Barrow told AFP late Tuesday.

Jammeh led the Gambia for 22 years but conceded defeat in polls this month before reversing his position and claiming victory, bringing calls from the international community to accept the result and step down.

“ECOWAS wanted to know whether the incoming administration plans to prosecute outgoing President Yahya Jammeh,” spokesman Halifa Sallah said following talks with the Economic Community of West African States on the peaceful transfer of power.

“President-elect Barrow says he is going to treat outgoing President Yahya Jammeh like a former head of state and would consult him for advice,” Sallah added.

Also Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande said the results of the December 1 polls were “indisputable” and that Barrow “must be installed as soon as possible”.

“The matter is non-negotiable,” Hollande said after a meeting in Paris with visiting Senegalese President Macky Sall, whose country nearly surrounds the Gambia.

Last week, ECOWAS said Jammeh must step down next month when his term runs out and vowed “to take all necessary action to enforce the results” of the poll, without spelling out what those measures might be.

Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 coup, initially warmly congratulated Barrow after results were declared.

But on December 9 he condemned “unacceptable errors” by election authorities and called for a new vote.

Jammeh ‘Sacks’ US Ambassador Who Urged Him To Concede

The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has sacked the US ambassador who called for him to accept defeat to Adama Barrow in elections this month, according to a letter written by the ambassador.

In a letter being shared on social media bearing the embassy’s official stamp, Ambassador Omar Faye writes:

I would like to inform my friends, colleagues and all Gambians that I have been recalled for home service.

The ambassador says he will stand down willingly, adding he’s like the long-serving ruler to follow his example:

I hope and pray that president Jammeh will likewise hand over to President Elect Adama Barrow.

He finishes his letter by urging all authorities, especially the army, which observers say is the key to the outcome of The Gambia’s election crisis, to respect Mr Barrow’s win in the 1 December election:

I am hereby reminding all Gambian officials, civil servants and military personnel [that] they are serving the people of The Gambia and must protect its security, peace and prosperity.

As a former military officer, I was taught loyalty to country FIRST. I hope the armed and security forces will uphold the WILL of The Gambian people made on December 1, 2016.”

Credit: BBC

Gambia’s Jammeh to be ‘rebel leader’ if he clings to power – Opposition

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh will effectively become a “rebel leader” if he fails to leave office at the end of his mandate in January, the nation’s government-in-waiting said on Sunday.

Halifa Sallah, a spokesperson for the opposition coalition that spurred president-elect Adama Barrow to victory over Jammeh in a December 1 poll, said the longtime leader had no constitutional mandate to remain in office beyond January.

“Any president who loses constitutional legitimacy becomes a rebel,” Sallah said.

“Anybody who is a military officer or civil servant who refuses to be under another constitutional authority obviously would also become a rebel,” he added.

The Gambia’s top brass have flip-flopped over whether they will remain loyal to Jammeh, drawing warnings from the international community.

Barrow’s inauguration

West African presidents, meanwhile, called on Gambian security forces to act in the national interest and “protect lives and property” in a statement issued after talks among the regional Ecowas bloc on Saturday.

Sallah read an address to the nation on Barrow’s behalf that made clear the president-elect intended to take power in January once Jammeh’s five-year mandate expired.

“The constitution orders that I assume office on the day the term of office of outgoing President Jammeh expires. He assumed office on 19th January 2012. His term expires in January 2017,” Barrow said in the statement.

“On the day his term expires my term as the lawful President of The Gambia begins,” he added.

The west African leaders attending Saturday’s summit will attend Barrow’s inauguration, they said, and would “take all necessary actions to enforce the results”.

“Head of States will attend the inauguration of the President-elect Adama Barrow who must be sworn in on 19th January 2017 in conformity with the Gambian constitution,” an Ecowas statement said.

Peaceful transfer of power

The group called on Jammeh to accept the result of the result and “refrain from any action likely to compromise the transition and peaceful transfer of power”.

This followed talks held by four west African heads of state dispatched to Banjul on Tuesday that failed to yield a deal with Jammeh to cede power.

Meanwhile a planned transition with Jammeh’s involvement looks near impossible.

Jammeh initially conceded defeat after 22 years in power on state television, in a segment broadcast on December 2.

One week later, following a recount of the results that still gave Barrow a narrow win, Jammeh said he was voiding the election.

Since then his Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction party has lodged a controversial complaint with the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the result.

An avalanche of international condemnation has followed, along with reports that Barrow is fearing for his safety with no state protection.

Gambian coalition says Buhari has what it takes to face Jammeh

The coalition of seven political parties that produced Adama Barrow, president-elect of Gambia, has enjoined President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy his vast experience, alongside other African leaders to resolve the political logjam in Gambia.

A statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, the coalition made the call while speaking with reporters during the high-level ECOWAS /AU/UN joint mission to The Gambia on Tuesday.

Adesina said a member of the coalition, Hamad Bah, made the call on behalf of the political parties.

Bah reportedly said the people of Gambia needed the experience of Buhari in addressing the socio-political challenges facing their country.

“We need the experience of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in many ways. Like President Jammeh, he is a former military officer, so he knows how the military thinks, and would be able to talk to him appropriately,” he said.

“Again, President Buhari was in the opposition in Nigeria for about 12 years, before he won election in 2015.

“So, he also knows how the opposition thinks. He can feel what we feel. We are quite glad that President Buhari is here, it gives us a lot of hope.”

On the high-level visitation team, Adesina said: “In series of meetings that lasted the whole of Tuesday, the team met with President Yahya Jammeh, twice, conferred with Barrow, consulted with security chiefs, members of the diplomatic community, leadership of the electoral commission, and many other interest groups.

“The consensus was that President Jammeh needed to respect the result of the December 1 election, which he had earlier accepted, congratulated the winner, only to recant a week later, calling for fresh polls `to be conducted by a God-fearing electoral commission.”

Apart from Buhari, the Joint ECOWAS-AU-UN team was made up of Presidents Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (Liberia), Ernest Bai Koroma (Sierra Leone) John Mahama (Ghana), and Mohammed Ibn Chambas, (UN Special Representative for West Africa).

The team encouraged Jammeh to reconsider his rejection of the election results.

“Jammeh was also urged to hand over power within constitutional deadlines, and in accordance with electoral laws of The Gambia,” according to Adesina.

“President Johnson-Sirleaf said discussions on The Gambian impasse would continue, as ECOWAS leaders meet in Abuja on Saturday.”

Gambia: Yahya Jammeh’s party files petition to challenge election result

Gambia’s ruling party filed a petition to challenge the result of the presidential election which saw Yahya Jammeh lose power after 22 years rule.

The result of the December 1 polls should be annulled, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), said in a document handed to the registrar of the Supreme Court in the capital, Banjul.

The petition was filed after an ECOWAS delegation met with Jammeh, hoping to persuade him to hand over power to President-elect Adama Barrow.

The delegation included Presidents Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, John Mahama of Ghana and Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone.

Apart from ECOWAS, the UN, AU and the U.S. have all called on Mr. Jammeh to respect the wish of Gambians and relinquish power.

Earlier on Tuesday, security forces blocked the entrance to the electoral commission in Banjul, while the Chief of Defence Staff vowed to remain loyal to Mr. Jammeh, indicating that the country’s military would help him stay in power.

Mr. Jammeh last week announced his intention to challenge the election results, even though he had earlier conceded defeat to Mr. Barrow.

The 51-year-old, who has ruled the West African country for 22 years, deployed heavily armed military and police to the streets of the capital.

Gambia’s Jammeh Receptive To Mediators- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday that Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh was receptive to a delegation of West African leaders who visited Gambia to urge the long-ruling leader to step aside following a poll defeat.

Asked if Jammeh had been receptive, he told reporters shortly after the meeting: “Yes, very much so.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Gambia’s security forces entered the building of the Independent Electoral Commission, instructed its chairman to leave and have since barred other employees from entering, the chairman, Alieu Momarr Njai, told Reuters.

President Buhari and other West African leaders including, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra-Leone and out-going President of Ghana, John Mahama met with Jammeh who lost the presidential election penultimate week.

A statement by the presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, said Buhari and the other leaders also met the president-elect of Gambia, Adama Barrow.

President Jammeh had earlier conceded defeat in the election, after a 22-year rule, but recanted a week later, asking for fresh polls to be conducted by a “God-fearing and independent electoral commission.”

A senior official of regional bloc Ecowas, Marcel de Souza, would not rule out sending in troops. “We have done it in the past,” he told Radio France Internationale.

“We currently have troops in Guinea-Bissau with the Ecomib mission. We have had troops in Mali. And therefore it is a possible solution.”

Jammeh’s ruling APRC party filed a petition on Tuesday with the Supreme Court, asking it to annul the election results.

The president had questioned the validity of the count after the electoral commission changed some results, even though it insists the outcome was not affected.

Credit: dailytrust

Military takes over office of Gambian electoral commission

Gambia’s security forces have taken over the building of the Independent Electoral Commission.

Alieu Momarr Njai, chairman of the commission, told Reuters that he was worried, revealing that employees of the electoral body have been entering the building.

“The military came to my office and said I am not to touch anything and told me to leave,” he said.

“I am worried for my safety.”

African leaders are currently in the country to pacify President Yahya Jammeh to respect the will of the people and step down following his defeat in an election.

Jammeh has declined to relinquish power in spite of initially conceding that he had lost to opponent Adama Barrow in the election on December 1.

“We hope that the will of the people prevails,’’ Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s president and ECOWAS chairwoman, told reporters on arrival.

Other heads of state taking part are President Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s John Mahama, who lost an election recently and conceded defeat.

A witness said several of them rode in Rolls-Royces with Jammeh’s name embroidered on the headrests and then departed for the president’s office.

“We will be asking President Jammeh to respect his country’s Constitution, and to maintain the inviolability of the electoral process,’’ Buhari said on Twitter.

Diplomats say if Jammeh seeks to cling to power after negotiations fail, neighbours might consider options for removing him by force.

The delegation was also due to meet Barrow, who has said he would annul Jammeh’s declaration of Gambia as an Islamic republic among other reforms.

Report says Jammeh seized power in a coup in 1994; this has earned him a reputation as a repressive leader.

West African leaders implore The Gambia’s Jammeh to step down

We’re expecting the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to arrive in The Gambia today in an attempt to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to step down after he lost the election.

 

Mr Buhari is expected to be joined by Liberian leader Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s John Mahama, who himself lost an election last week and has said he will step down as president next month.

 

After initially accepting defeat, at the end of last week he claimed he no longer accepted the result and asked for a new poll run by a “Godfearing” electoral commission.

 

President elect Adama Barrow has welcomed plans for the leaders to visit and is reportedly going to meet them too.

Buhari off to Gambia to resolve presidential dispute – Reports

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is set to travel to Gambia to help resolve the political impasse in the West African country, several media have reported.

Sahara Reporters stated that the Nigerian leader will join his Liberian counterpart, Ellen Sirleaf, to persuade Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to concede defeat.

Presidential aide Garba Shehu on Monday evening confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that “there is diplomacy going on.”

Mr. Shehu said there would be an official briefing to reporters on the matter.

Mr. Jammeh, who initially conceded defeat to opposition candidate Adama Barrow, later reneged; saying he would order a fresh election.

Observers and international organisations like ECOWAS, the UN and the U.S. have all asked Mr. Jammeh to respect the wish of Gambians and relinquish power after 22 years in office.

Mr. Buhari is expected to help persuade Mr. Jammeh to leave office and would also meet with Mr. Barrow to try to seek a soft landing for the outgoing dictator.

Jammeh Trying To Use Nigerian Judges To Plant Himself In Office, Gambian Lawyers Warn

The Gambian Bar Association has warned that Ex-President Yahya Jammeh, who first accepted his loss of the presidency in this month’s election only to reject the result, is attempting to use judicial officers imported from Nigeria to remain in office.

The Gambian judiciary is led by Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, a Nigerian national.  In a statement, the Gambian Bar said they have “absolutely no confidence” in Fagbenle, citing many instances of his close investment in the Jammeh presidency, and affirming that he is at the helm of Jammeh’s plan to undermine the will of the Gambian people.

“There is a total breakdown of the rule of law and the Chief Justice has been known to carry executive directives in matters of the state interest,” the Gambian Bar said, adding that it wished to bring this issue to the attention of the Nigerian Government.

The lawyers noted that there has been no Session of the Supreme Court of the Gambia for almost two years, in contravention of the law.  It said that the only Judge appointed to sit on the Supreme Court is Chief Justice Fagbenle, and that whenever there is an intention to constitute a Supreme Court, he and the Attorney General would handpick qualified lawyers or judges from commonwealth countries who would visit the Gambia for a two-week duration and are appointed by the President for that purpose to dispose of cases.

“It is clear that Jammeh did not expect to lose the election and did not deem it fit to have a sitting permanent Supreme Court. This has inured to his benefit for the last two years during which several cases have sat unheard by a Supreme Court. Case in point is the appeal by the United Democratic party against the conviction of its party leaders.”

Insisting that Fagbenle is “clearly unfit” for the constitutional role of Chief Justice and will certainly take steps to attempt to extend the illegal regime of Jammeh, the group pointed out that there are also seven judges of the high court, all appointed in 2016, and all handpicked from Nigeria.

They named the judges as Justice Agboola, Justice A.N.C. Ikoro, Justice Uduma, Justice E.E. Ogar, Justice E.O. Dada, Justice Sulaiman, and Justice E.O. Otaba

“These persons have never been judges or sat in a judicial capacity,” the lawyers said.  “They were imported and appointed and have demonstrated in several high-profile judgments that they will not take any steps contrary to the will of the President.

“It is, therefore, a vital priority for the Government of Nigeria and all Bar Associations to condemn the actions and capacity of all judges of foreign nationality currently sitting in Gambia and call for their immediate repatriation to prevent them from undermining the will of the Gambian people,” they added.

Gambia President-elect Demands Jammeh Steps Down ‘Now’

Gambian president-elect Adama Barrow said on Monday that longtime leader Yahya Jammeh should step down immediately after Jammeh reversed his decision to concede defeat following a presidential election.

“I think he should step down now,” Barrow told AFP. “He has lost the election, we don’t want to waste time, we want this country to start moving.”

Jammeh’s party announced a legal challenge on Saturday over the December 1 election in which he had already conceded defeat to Barrow.

Barrow is due to welcome a heavyweight delegation of African heads of state and UN representatives Tuesday to persuade Jammeh to go, which the president-elect said gave him confidence he would soon take power.

“It’s giving us confidence and it will give confidence to every Gambian that the world is concerned about Gambia,” he said.

Diplomatic sources told AFP the delegation is likely to include UN West Africa envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her capacity as head of the west African bloc ECOWAS.

Jammeh has led the tiny sliver of a nation of just under two million people for 22 years since taking power in a coup.

Credit:

http://guardian.ng/news/gambia-president-elect-demands-jammeh-step-down-now/

Gambia refuses entry to ECOWAS head amid election dispute

Gambian authorities have refused entry to Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, the chair of regional body ECOWAS, Senegal’s foreign minister said on Saturday.

Such move is dampening hopes for a political solution after President Yahya Jammeh rejected the results of elections that he lost on December 1.

Jammeh on Friday called for another election in the tiny West African country after narrowly losing to opposition leader Adama Barrow. He had already conceded defeat publicly last week.

The announcement on state television threw Gambia’s future into doubt after the unexpected election result ended Jammeh’s 22-year rule and was widely seen as a moment of democratic hope.

The streets of Banjul were calm on Saturday, although some residents said they were staying at home for fear of violence.

Sirleaf had hoped to put back on track Gambia’s first democratic transition of power in over 50 years.

However, those plans appeared thwarted on Saturday when her plane was denied landing access at Banjul.

“Johnson Sirleaf was supposed to fly in today, but Jammeh said ‘not at the moment,” Senegal foreign minister Mankeur Ndiaye told media.

It was not clear if the plane had already taken off.

Sirleaf’s camp was not immediately available for comment.

A spokesman for Jammeh’s government could not be reached.

As Gambians brace for a tense standoff, international criticism of Jammeh’s claim came in fast.

Following the United States and Senegal, the African Union on Saturday weighed in, calling Jammeh’s statement “null and void”.

Gambia’s army chief pledges allegiance to President-elect Adama Barrow

Gambia’s army chief has pledged allegiance to President-elect Adama Barrow, Mr. Barrow’s spokeswoman has said, reinforcing hopes that the tiny West African nation will see its first peaceful change of power in more than half a century.

A self-made real estate developer who once worked as a security guard at retailer Argos in London, Mr. Barrow beat incumbent Yahya Jammeh in last Thursday’s election.

Mr. Jammeh, an autocrat who had banned opposition protests and pledged to rule Gambia for a “billion years”, shocked Gambians by admitting defeat, raising questions about what had persuaded him that the game was up.

“General Badjie called to congratulate Barrow on his victory and to offer his allegiance,” spokeswoman Amie Bojang told journalists in Banjul.

An army spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

Though Mr. Jammeh called Mr. Barrow to congratulate him on his victory last week, the pair had not met since the vote. The constitution says he must hand over a month after the poll.

Mr. Jammeh took power in a 1994 coup that unseated Dawda Jawara, the country’s leader since its independence from Great Britain in 1965.

Welcomed at first on a promise of ending corruption, Mr. Jammeh became increasingly intolerant of dissent, jailing and torturing opponents, human rights groups say.

His unexpected defeat was greeted with joy in Banjul, the capital, with crowds pulling down the ubiquitous posters of a grinning Mr. Jammeh and trampling them under foot.

Gambians are hoping the quiet businessman Mr. Barrow will bring a new era of stability, after living under a president who arrested people for being witches and wizards and claimed to have magical herbal cures for AIDS and infertility.

Mr. Barrow has promised to end rights abuses and step down after three years as a boost to democracy.

A heavy police presence remains on the streets, a hangover from an era many Gambians are hoping is now behind them.

In the last two days, 31 political prisoners have been released or granted bail.

Mai Ahmed Fatty, the head of Barrow’s coalition transition team told journalists in Banjul that he was not worried that a meeting between Jammeh and Barrow has not yet taken place.

“We take the outgoing president at his word,” said Fatty. “Part of our request was to release the political prisoners. This was done and it shows good will.”

Watch How Gambian Ruler, Jammeh, Called President Elect, Barrow, To Concede Defeat

Gambian ruler Yayah Jammeh has conceded defeat to rival Adama Barrow after the presidential polls.

Gambia’s electoral commission says opposition candidate Adama Barrow won an upset victory in the country’s presidential poll, beating longtime ruler Jammeh after 22-year reign.

The Independent Electoral Commission announced on Friday that Barrow won 263,000 votes, or 45 percent of the total, while Jammeh took 212,000 votes, about 36 percent. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 17 percent.

Here is what we know about Adama Barrow, the ‘next’ President of Gambia.

Information coming in from the electoral commission in Gambia has it that the opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, is in the lead after almost 75 per cent of votes had been counted in Gambian presidential voting, threatening President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year-rule, the electoral commission said on Friday.

 

Mr. Barrow, who has the support of seven political parties, has won 22 out of 53 constituencies or 138,148 votes in Thursday’s presidential polls.

 

Just in case Mr Barrow is declared President-Elect of Gambia, Omojuwa.Com has compiled a summary of what we know about Mr Barrow for your reading.

 

Mr Barrow:

 

  • Born in 1965 in small village near the market town of Basse, eastern Gambia
  • Moved to London in the 2000s, reportedly working as a security guard at Argos department store in north London while he completed his studies.
  • Returned to Gambia in 2006 to set up his own property company
  • 51-year-old wins nomination to lead coalition of seven opposition parties against President Jammeh
  • Criticises the lack of a two-term limit on the presidency and condemns the jailing of opposition politicians
  • Promotes an independent judiciary, freedom for media and civil society
  • Says he will introduce a three-year transitional government made up from members of the opposition coalition if he wins

After 22 year rule, Gambia’s President Jammeh ‘to concede defeat’.

The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh is about to concede defeat, the electoral commission chairman has told the BBC.

Mr Jammeh, who has been in power for 22 years, faced estate agent Adama Barrow in Thursday’s election.

Electoral commission chief Alieu Momar Njie said it was unprecedented for a Gambian head of state to accept defeat before the final results.

The West African country has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence in 1965.

There has been no official word from Mr Jammeh, who took power in a coup in 1994.

The 51-year-old leader has been trailing Mr Barrow in partial results and was defeated in the capital, Banjul, his stronghold.

A devout Muslim, Mr Jammeh once said he would rule for “one billion years” if “Allah willed it”.

“It’s really unique that someone who has been ruling this country for so long has accepted defeat,” Mr Njie told reporters.

During the campaign, the country’s mostly young population seemed to be yearning for change, said the BBC’s Umaru Fofana in Banjul.

The economic challenges the country faces have forced many to make the perilous journey to Europe, with some drowning on the way, he said.

Human rights groups have accused Mr Jammeh, who has in the past claimed he can cure Aids and infertility, of repression and abuses.

Several previous opposition leaders are in jail after taking part in a rare protest in April.

Observers from the European Union (EU) and the West African regional bloc Ecowas did not attend the vote.

Gambian officials opposed the presence of Western observers, but the EU said it was staying away out of concern about the fairness of the voting process.

The African Union did despatch a handful of observers to supervise the vote, however.

The Gambia, a tiny country with a population of fewer than two million, is surrounded on three sides by Senegal and has a short Atlantic coastline popular with European tourists.

Yahya Jammeh Seeks To Extend 22-Year Rule In Gambian Elections

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh could see an end to his 22-year rule as Gambians cast their votes during Thursday’s national election.

Adama Barrow, Mr. Jammeh’s main challenger, has surged in popularity after campaigning extensively for the past two weeks – the only time period in which candidates are legally permitted to campaign. Mr. Barrow, a businessman, has earned the support of seven political parties and an independent candidate, who have formed a united coalition that seeks to unseat Mr. Jammeh.

 

 

Mama Kandeh, a former member of parliament, is contending on the Gambian Democratic Congress ticket.

The winner of the three-way race will serve a five-year term.

“Power belongs to the people. You cannot stop us and you cannot stop them,” Mr. Barrow said to an AFP reporter. “If [Jammeh] loses, let him concede defeat. And we know he is going to lose.”

Mr. Jammeh, however, is confident he will emerge victorious.

“By the grace of the almighty Allah, there will be the biggest landslide in the history of my elections,” the Gambian president said.

 

 

In the weeks leading up to the election, Mr. Jammeh has ramped up efforts to ensure he maintains control of the small West Africa country, living up to his reputation as an oppressor of political freedom.

At 8:15 pm local time on the eve of the election, AFP reported that Internet connection was cut. Starting on Thursday afternoon, Gambians could not send text messages or place international calls, and apps such as WhatsApp and Skype were not working.

“Over the past 22 years, President Jammeh and the Gambian security forces have used enforced disappearances, torture, intimidation, and arbitrary arrests to suppress dissent and preserve Jammeh’s grip on power,” Human Rights Watch said in a report on the elections.

“Ahead of this year’s election, the government has repeated these tactics, with a crackdown on opposition parties, particularly the United Democratic Party (UDP), that has all but extinguished hopes for a free and fair election.”

AFP confirmed that there would be no international observers present to monitor the election, raising concerns that the election will not be fair and free.

Mr. Jammeh rose to power in a 1994 coup and has proceeded to win every election since then. While he boasts that the country has achieved unprecedented development under his reign, 60 percent of the population lives in poverty, and roughly a third live on less than $1.25 USD a day.

#Gambia: 20 years of President Yayah Jammeh in power – Djibril Balde

Since his accession to power by coup d’etat on 22 July 1994, President Yayah Jammeh has been accused of ruling the Gambia with an iron fist. After 20 years in office, his record has been tarnished by allegations of serious human rights violations including, restriction of the freedom of expression and opinion, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, executions and disappearance.

On 22 July 2014, to mark the 20th anniversary of President Jammeh’s accession to power, Gambian refugees, along with Senegalese, Gambian and international human rights organisations held a sit-in in front of the Gambian Embassy in Senegal. A Gambian human rights activist said the demonstration “was a success, it highlighted … the mistreatment Gambians are going through…All those who gathered here are in one way mistreated, seriously tortured, wrongfully imprisoned, or escaped an assignation attempt.”
The protesters were calling on the African and international community to take a greater interest in the deteriorating human rights situation in the Gambia. They were calling for the Gambian government to allow the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on torture and summary, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions to conduct the mission they had initially scheduled from 12-18 August 2014, but later unilaterally postponed.
Read the full blog here.