THE GAMBIA: West Africa cannot afford another conflagration
January 18th, 2015
THE GAMBIA: WEST AFRICAN ACANNOT AFFORD ANOTHER CONFLAGRATION
The Center for Democracy and Development (CDD) views the rapidly evolving political developments in the Gambia with utmost concern. The country’s December 1st, 2015, presidential election resulted in a defeat and initial concession of defeat from long-time dictator, President Yahya Jammeh. The fate of the Gambia was however thrown into uncertainty when President Jammeh, in a dramatic volte-face, retracted his concession and unanimously annulled the election. Jammeh has rather declared that new elections be held on the grounds that the initial election results, which handed the victory to opposition leader, Adama Barrow, were unacceptable to him.
Following the December election, a new government should be inaugurated on Thursday, 19th January. Despite intense diplomatic interventions from the international community, spearheaded by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Jammeh appears to have dug in his heels, triggering a volatile quagmire.
CDD continues to closely monitor the efforts of the ECOWAS, but is significantly worried that President Jammeh is hell-bent on triggering a political impasse as he refuses to step down at the expiration of his tenure. Only today, Mr. Jammeh imposed an illegitimate 90-day emergency rule over Gambia. This action has heightened tension in the West African country and further portends danger for the fragile situations around the sub-region. We are gravely concerned about the possible political, security and humanitarian dimensions this may trigger.
We are aware of President Jammeh’s attempts to draft lawyers and Justices from other West African nations, especially Nigeria, to validate his unconscionable actions to thwart the freely expressed choice of Gambians to elect a new leader. This dangerous afterthought and uncanny quest to further tenure elongation negates all known democratic covenants and violates the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.
We urge the outgoing President Jammeh to respect the will of his people and take immediate steps to proceed with the transition arrangements to usher a new administration. Particularly, we urge all political, governance and institutional actors in The Gambia to work closely together to deescalate the heightened security situation and to ensure compliance with all Constitutional provisions leading to installation of a new government. We further urge the Chiefs of Security institutions in the Gambia to abide by their Constitutional oaths of office and to ensure that peace, security, law and order are maintained at all times during this transition period. We call for the protection and fidelity to national security rather than regime security.
We urge the international community to continue to take steps toward a Constitutional change of government, especially to ensure that all political actors in the Gambia obey relevant national and international codes for a smooth transition of power.
The CDD will continue to side with the good people of The Gambia and the international community, as we work side-by-side with other regional partners, in the affirmation of the outcome of the Presidential election of December 1st, 2016.
Abuja, Tuesday, 17th January 2017.