Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Jammeh’s Gambit

It worked!

"Gambia withdraws from International Criminal Court" by Kevin Sieff The Washington Post News Service  October 27, 2016

NAIROBI — Gambia has announced that it will withdraw from the International Criminal Court, the third African country to declare its departure in just two weeks. 

Yeah, I was keeping an eye out for that.

Explaining the country’s decision, Gambian Information Minister Sheriff Bojang said on state television late Tuesday that the global judicial body was really an ‘‘an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans.’’

Last Tuesday, Burundi announced its own intention to leave the court and on Friday, South Africa did the same. Then came Gambia, the tiny West African country. There are worries that this could be the beginning of an African exodus from the court, a dwindling membership on a continent with a long list of conflicts and human rights abuses to adjudicate.

Experts believe Kenya, Namibia, and Uganda could be among the next countries to leave the court.

For years, many African nations have contended that the ICC, which was established in 2002, is biased against the continent’s leaders. Nine of its 10 current investigations involve African countries.

The three nations are the first to leave the ICC.


And not too soon afterward:

Gambia’s president concedes defeat after election loss
Leader promises ‘a new Gambia’ after upset win
Gambia coalition calls for leader to step down immediately
Gambia’s ruling party petitions for fresh election

What did the world say?

"US, UN say Gambian forces should vacate election offices" by Abdoulie John and Carley Petesch Associated Press  December 14, 2016

DAKAR, Senegal — Gambia’s security forces should immediately vacate the offices of the country’s electoral commission, the United States and the UN secretary-general said Wednesday, with the UN chief warning their presence could compromise ‘‘sensitive electoral material’’ as President Yahya Jammeh refuses to accept being voted out of power.

Tuesday’s takeover of the offices, even as several West African leaders were in the tiny country urging Jammeh to respect the election results, was an ‘‘outrageous act of disrespect of the will of the Gambian people and defiance towards the international community,’’ the spokesman for the UN chief said.

It's a tiny country; however, if you can find it on a map you can see its geostrategic location. Thus the interest.

The ruling party is now seeking a new election, saying the Dec. 1 vote was not conducted fairly. West African leaders with the economic bloc ECOWAS will meet Saturday in Nigeria to discuss the political crisis as uncertainty deepens in the country of 1.9 million.

Jammeh at first shocked the country by accepting defeat after 22 years in power, even making a concession call broadcast on state television. A week later, he announced he had changed his mind. The turnaround chilled the celebrations in a nation where the government has been accused of widespread rights abuses that have sent thousands of Gambians fleeing toward Europe.

The ruling party Tuesday brought a petition against the Independent Electoral Commission and Gambia’s attorney general, saying the election was not conducted in good faith and should be invalidated. Meanwhile, security forces surrounded the electoral commission offices and refused to let staffers enter.

The commission has stood by a vote it has called transparent, fair, and accurate.

The UN secretary-general called on Gambia’s security forces to immediately vacate the electoral offices and to refrain from further acts that would jeopardize a peaceful transfer of power.

The US Embassy in the capital, Banjul, also demanded that security forces withdraw, saying the ‘‘unnecessary and unprovoked show of force is seen as a move to subvert the democratic process in the Gambia.’’

And as we now know, US Embassies are cover for CIA stations.

It remains unclear what action will be taken on the petition by Jammeh’s party, as there is no sitting Supreme Court to rule on the challenge. The United States said it does not believe the petition ‘‘will be heard by a credible court dedicated to ensuring the integrity of The Gambia’s democratic process.’’

Jammeh, who seized power in a bloodless 1994 military coup, has long been accused by human rights groups of overseeing a government that imprisons, tortures, and sometimes kills its opponents.

No doubt at the behest of the CIA, and I can't really say anything about that.


RelatedNigerian leader to press Gambia’s Jammeh to step down

"Gambia president-elect in Senegal amid failed talks" Associated Press  January 15, 2017

DAKAR, Senegal — Senegal is hosting Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow until his Jan. 19 inauguration, as the small West African country’s longtime leader refuses to step down peacefully despite mediation efforts and calls from regional and international leaders.

President Yahya Jammeh initially conceded to Barrow after losing elections on Dec. 1 but changed his mind a week later, saying the vote was invalid, citing irregularities.

His party has submitted a petition to the Supreme Court against the results, but there are not enough judges currently presiding to hear the case.

Leaders from West Africa’s regional bloc have met with Jammeh and Barrow in attempts to mediate the situation, and Nigeria has offered asylum to Jammeh. However, no deal was reached.

The regional bloc has said if Jammeh does not cede power it will consider military intervention and has already prepared a standby force led by Senegal, which almost completely surrounds Gambia.

Gambia’s political uncertainty has in the past 10 days sent several thousand people, mostly women and children in buses, fleeing the country of about 1.9 million people across border to Senegal.


"Gambia leader, pressured to go, declares state of emergency" by ABDOULIE JOHN Associated Press  January 18, 2017

DAKAR, Senegal — Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, just two days before he is supposed to cede power after losing elections last month.

The longtime leader is refusing to step down despite international pressure and the threat by other West African nations of a military intervention.

They did it to that guy in the Ivory Coast years ago.

The 90-day state of emergency, announced on state television, was to begin immediately. It bans all residents and citizens from ‘‘any acts of disobedience’’ or violence and urges security forces to maintain order.

Jammeh also blamed what he called the unprecedented level of foreign involvement in Gambia’s election. The National Assembly, in approving the state of emergency, condemned the ‘‘unlawful and malicious interference’’ by the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, which has said the continental body will no longer recognize Jammeh as Gambia’s legitimate leader as of Thursday.

President-elect Adama Barrow, the man who ousted Jammeh in the December election, is vowing to take power on Thursday.

Jammeh says the country must wait for Gambia’s supreme court to decide on the ruling party’s challenge to the election results, a delay that could take months. The party alleges voting irregularities.

On Monday, Gambia’s chief justice recused himself and said he could not rule on Jammeh’s request for an injunction blocking Barrow’s inauguration.

West Africa’s regional bloc has a standby force for possible military intervention if Jammeh doesn’t step down when his mandate ends this week. Gambia, a tiny nation of 1.9 million people, is estimated to have an army of just 900 troops.

Jammeh has ruled Gambia for more than 22 years. He initially went on state television to concede his election defeat, only to make a dramatic about-face a week later. He has long been accused by human rights groups of running a government that arbitrarily detains, tortures, and even kills opponents.


"Gambia’s new president is sworn in — in Senegal" by Dionne Searcey and Jaime Yaya Barry New York Times   January 19, 2017

DAKAR, Senegal — Fearing for his safety, the newly elected president of Gambia was sworn in Thursday during a ceremony about 150 miles from the border of his country, part of a tense standoff over who is in charge of continental Africa’s smallest nation.

The inauguration took place in a nondescript room at the Gambian Embassy here in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, because the new president, Adama Barrow, has so little control over his country that he did not even go home to attend the funeral of his son, who was killed by a dog over the weekend.

Yahya Jammeh, the repressive leader of Gambia who seized power in a coup 22 years ago and once said he could rule for a billion years, is refusing to step down after losing the presidential election last month.

So now he is insane, is that it? For wanting to avoid war crimes charges while in the service of Western powers?

West African nations are preparing to invade Gambia and remove Jammeh by force, but he has threatened to fight back. At least 26,000 Gambians, worried about violence, have fled the country, the United Nations says, and several senior officials in Jammeh’s government have resigned in protest or have left the nation, as well.

Barrow’s team ultimately decided that the embassy in Dakar was the closest they could safely get to Gambian soil to start the new administration. Plans for an elaborate ceremony in a soccer stadium in Banjul, Gambia’s capital, had to be scrapped amid the standoff.

Barrow arrived to enthusiastic whoops from hundreds of supporters and emerged from a motorcade beaming in an all-white outfit. He was sworn in just before 5 p.m., his hand on a Quran, pledging to serve his country “without fear or failure.” Several people who had gathered outside to watch on a large television screen shouted, “No more dictatorship!”

In a brief speech, the soft-spoken Barrow called on the Gambian security forces to pledge their loyalty to him, asking that the military stay in their barracks.

“We are one Gambia, one people,” he said.

Gambia has suffered high unemployment and political repression for years under Jammeh, with many citizens abandoning the country to risk perilous and often deadly journeys to Europe by sea.

"Minutes after Mr. Barrow was sworn in, celebrations erupted across Gambia, with thousands gathering in some areas. Lamin Demba, a welder, said he felt like a free man."

But while Barrow has popular support in Gambia, it has not been enough to dislodge the erratic Jammeh. After initially accepting defeat in the election, he suddenly cited voting irregularities and called for a new vote.

“He is still the president,” said Seedy Njie, Gambia’s minister of information, communication and technology. This week, Gambia’s Parliament voted to extend Jammeh’s term for three months, though international officials denounced the move and many analysts consider it unconstitutional.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution Thursday supporting the efforts of the Economic Community of West African States to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to Barrow.

The draft resolution, presented by Senegal, which has a rotating seat on the council, offers “its full support to the ECOWAS in its commitment to ensure the respect of the will of the people of The Gambia” in the election that ousted Jammeh from office.

The speed with which the council has taken action shows how little support Jammeh has among world powers. He has overseen a legacy of human rights abuses, including imprisoning opponents and declaring that gay people should be beheaded. He has claimed to have the ability to cure AIDS with little more than an herbal concoction.

Not heard much of that until just now.

Barrow, by contrast, is an unassuming real estate agent who fell into the candidate’s position after Jammeh jailed other opposition party members. He left the country last week to meet with other West African leaders to discuss how to resolve the matter of taking over the presidency. Fearing for his safety at home, he wound up in Senegal, which surrounds Gambia on three sides and has a huge stake in Gambia’s stability.


Jammeh’s circle of friends has been shrinking considerably in recent days. The African Union said it would fail to recognize him as president as of Thursday. The presidents of Liberia and Mauritania met with him to urge him to step down, to no avail. His chief spokesman and longtime mouthpiece fled the country. Many of his ministers resigned.

Jammeh has tried numerous channels to cling to power. He appealed to the Supreme Court, but because he had fired most of the judges and failed to replace them, a full panel could not be assembled in time to hear his case.

This week, Jammeh declared a state of emergency in the country. He shut three independent radio stations, and his officers arrested people selling #GambiaHasDecided T-shirts.

For now, it appears members of the security forces are staying loyal to him. But with Jammeh lacking a broad support base, his ability to provide for supporters who have lived off his good graces for years will be challenged.

“He has nothing left, really,” said Sallah, Barrow’s spokesman. “In the end, I don’t see how he can stay.”

Mariam Sakho, a Gambian waitress in Banjul, said she was confident Jammeh would step down, especially now that many of his ministers were deserting him.

“Yesterday, my boss say I should not come to work because it is not safe,” she said. “But for me, I believe nothing will happen, so I told him I will come. Everybody is tired with Yahya Jammeh; I believe he will go.”

The manager in the hotel restaurant where Sakho works, Lamine Bojang, said that despite the uncertainty over Gambia’s future, the possibility of a war had never crossed his mind. He argued that Jammeh was just “testing the waters” and would give up at the last minute. 

Must be a prophet.

“Gambians are very peaceful people,” he said. “This is a small country. Imagine if we fight and a thousand people die. There will be no one to govern. Even Jammeh will not like to rule a hundred people.”

People stayed glued to radios for news, while some Barrow supporters prepared to take to the streets to celebrate his inauguration.

“I am going to celebrate our president, and nobody can stop me. It is my right,” said Fatou Njie, a Barrow supporter.

But Njie, Gambia’s newly appointed communications minister, argued that Barrow’s inauguration in a foreign land was a violation of the constitution and played down the decision by ECOWAS to deploy troops.

“I am never concerned about the proposed military intervention,” he said. “We are a sovereign nation, and we should be allowed to find ways to solve our problems through a due process.”

The minister added that security forces have been installed in strategic parts of the country in readiness for “invasion by foreign forces.”


"Gambia’s defeated leader agrees to cede power" by Carley Petesch Associated Press  January 20, 2017

BANJUL, Gambia — Gambia’s defeated leader Yahya Jammeh said early Saturday he has decided to relinquish power, after hours of last-ditch talks with regional leaders and the threat by a regional military force to make him leave.

‘‘I believe it is not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed,’’ Jammeh said in a brief statement on state television. He promised that ‘‘all the issues we currently face will be resolved peacefully.’’

He did not give details on any deal that was struck, and it was not immediately clear when Adama Barrow, who beat Jammeh in last month’s election, would return from neighboring Senegal to take power.

But the speech signaled an end to the political crisis that has seen this tiny West African nation caught between two men claiming to be in charge. Late Friday, Barrow declared that ‘‘the rule of fear’’ in Gambia had ended.

Shortly before Jammeh’s address, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz told reporters that a deal had been reached and that Jammeh would leave the country. He and Guinean President Alpha Conde had handled the talks.

An official close to the situation said Jammeh would leave within three days, possibly on Saturday with Conde, who was spending the night in Gambia’s capital, Banjul. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak about the situation to the press.

The famously mercurial Jammeh at first shocked Gambians by conceding his election loss to Barrow, but with the possibility of prosecution hanging over him for human rights abuses alleged during his 22 years in power, he decided to change his mind. Barrow was inaugurated Thursday at Gambia’s embassy in Senegal because of concerns for his safety.

Aaaaaah, if not the easy way, then the hard way.

The defeated Gambian leader, who first seized power in a 1994 coup, has been holed up this week in his official residence in Banjul, increasingly isolated as his security forces abandoned him and he dissolved his Cabinet.

That's weird because only the day before I was told they were staying loyal.

Defense forces chief Ousmane Badjie on Friday said Gambia’s security services now support Barrow and would not oppose the regional force that was ready to move against Jammeh if he refused to step down.

‘‘You cannot push us to war for an issue we can solve politically,’’ Badjie said. ‘‘We don’t see any reason to fight.’’

The force, including tanks, had rolled into Gambia without facing any resistance, said Marcel Alain de Souza, chairman of the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS. At least 20 military vehicles were seen Friday at the border town of Karang.

Oh, so they went in and occupied anyway.

The force included troops from Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, and Mali, and they moved in after Barrow’s inauguration and a unanimous vote by the UN Security Council to support the regional efforts.

Fearing violence, about 45,000 people have fled Gambia for Senegal, according to the UN refugee agency.

Jammeh earlier had agreed to step down but demanded amnesty for any crimes he may have committed while in power and said he wanted to stay in Gambia, in his home village of Kanilai, de Souza said. Those demands were not acceptable to ECOWAS, he added.

In his address early Saturday, Jammeh expressed ‘‘infinite gratitude to all Gambians’’ and said not a single person had been killed during the political crisis. ‘‘Our decision today was not dictated by anything else but by you, the supreme interest of our Gambian people, and our dear country.’’

Even before Jammeh’s address, some of Gambia’s diplomatic missions began switching their allegiance to Barrow, while a growing number of African nations said they no longer recognized Jammeh.

‘‘We embrace and support the new president Adama Barrow,’’ said Almamy Kassama, an official at the Gambian mission to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in an e-mail.

Banjul remained peaceful as the political crisis played out. Senegalese radio station RFM reported 30 Gambian soldiers had crossed into Senegal to join the regional forces.

"Senegalese radio station RFM reported 30 Gambian soldiers had crossed into Senegal to fight alongside the regional forces.

“I think the Gambian military would know it’s outnumbered,” said Maggie Dwyer, an expert on West African armed forces at the University of Edinburgh. “Gambia’s military has very little combat experience. This would be a very difficult situation for them.”

She estimated it had 2,400 troops at most, plus fewer than 1,000 paramilitary forces.

“My guess is a very small number would actually put their life on the line for Jammeh,” though some could stand by him to get the same deal he might receive to avoid prosecution, Dwyer said."

Soldiers at checkpoints in Banjul appeared relaxed Friday, with one telling visitors, ‘‘Welcome to the smiling coast.’’


Time to reconcile:

"New Gambia leader to set up truth commission" by Krista Larson Associated Press  January 21, 2017

DAKAR, Senegal — Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, said Saturday that he will launch a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the alleged human rights abuses of Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year regime.

In an interview with The Associated Press just hours after Jammeh finally acquiesced to political exile, Barrow, 51, said it is too soon to tell whether the former president could face trial at the International Criminal Court or elsewhere.

‘‘We aren’t talking about prosecution here. We are talking about getting a truth and reconciliation commission,’’ he said. ‘‘Before you can act, you have to get the truth, to get the facts together.’’

The exact terms of Jammeh’s departure remained under wraps Saturday apart from his destination: Guinea.

Wait until you see why.

‘‘What is fundamental here is he will live in a foreign country as of now,’’ said Barrow, visibly tired and wearing a powder blue traditional West African boubou robe and white leather slip-on shoes.

It’s been a chaotic and tragic week for the new Gambian leader, who is being protected by heavily armed guards at a private residence in an upscale Dakar neighborhood equipped with its own metal detector.

On Thursday, Barrow, a former businessman and real estate developer, was sworn into office at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar as hundreds of exiled Gambians cheered and waved flags outside.

In his inaugural address, Barrow vowed ‘‘a new start’’ for Gambia and promised to expand the country’s democratic gains. Although officially elected to a five-year term, Barrow has said he would serve only three years, with a goal of repairing Gambia’s democracy before making the way for new leadership. That is in pointed contrast to Jammeh’s long rule, and the many other African leaders who linger in office.

Barrow also has said he would prioritize reviving the stagnant economy of the tiny West African country, which has a population of 1.9 million. He also said he would improve Gambia’s relationships with the international community, and rejoin the Commonwealth of former British-ruled states and the International Criminal Court.

Maybe the vote was rigged!

Barrow has stayed in Senegal throughout the prolonged negotiations needed to arrange Jammeh’s departure. He attended Friday prayers at a mosque with Senegalese President Macky Sall.

The fears for Barrow’s security were because Jammeh has long been accused by human rights groups of heading a government that tortured opponents and silenced dissent. Many Gambians have been arbitrarily detained for years, often without access to family members or lawyers. Some people have effectively disappeared, but families cling to hope that they may still be alive, say human rights activists.

Senegal has welcomed tens of thousands of fleeing Gambians over the years. Barrow has vowed to free all political prisoners and is urging those in Dakar and elsewhere to return to Gambia and help him reform the country long beset by dictatorship and corruption.

He already has issued a message that ‘‘the rule of fear has been vanished from the Gambia for good.’’

‘‘Twenty-two years is a long period,” he said Saturday.


What they were keeping under wraps:

"Gambia’s ex-leader made off with millions, luxury cars" by Krista Larson Associated Press  January 23, 2017

BANJUL, Gambia — Exiled Gambian ruler Yahya Jammeh stole millions of dollars in his final weeks in power, plundering the state coffers and shipping out luxury vehicles by cargo plane, a special adviser for the new president said Sunday.

That was PART of the DEAL! 

What do you think they were negotiating?

Meanwhile, a regional military force rolled in, greeted by cheers, to secure this tiny West African nation so that democratically elected President Adama Barrow could return home. He remained in neighboring Senegal, where he took the oath of office Thursday because of concerns for his safety.

At a press conference in the Senegalese capital, Barrow’s special adviser Mai Ahmad Fatty told journalists that the president ‘‘will return home as soon as possible.’’

Underscoring the challenges facing the new administration, Fatty confirmed that Jammeh made off with more than $11.4 million during a two-week period alone. That is only what they have discovered so far since Jammeh and his family took an offer of exile after more than 22 years in power and departed late Saturday.

‘‘The Gambia is in financial distress. The coffers are virtually empty. That is a state of fact,’’ Fatty said. ‘‘It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia.’’

But the Gambians are celebrating and cheering so who cares?

Fatty also confirmed that a Chadian cargo plane had transported luxury goods out of the country on Jammeh’s behalf in his final hours in power, including an unknown number of vehicles.

Then it WAS PART of the DEAL to get him to LEAVE! 

Yes, you can loot the country, just leave.

Four containers remained Sunday at the airport in Guinea’s capital, where Jammeh and his entourage transferred during their flight into exile, said airport authorities. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

Fatty said officials ‘‘regret the situation,’’ have directed that the containers stay at the Guinea airport, and would stop any of Jammeh’s additional belongings from leaving Gambia. It appeared, though, that the major damage had been done, leaving the new government with little recourse to recoup the funds.

Part of the deal!

The unpredictable Jammeh, known for startling declarations like his claim that bananas and herbal rubs could cure AIDS, went into exile under mounting international pressure, with a wave to supporters as soldiers wept.

Like Nixon.

He is now in Equatorial Guinea, home to Africa’s longest-serving ruler and not a state party to the International Criminal Court.

Jammeh’s dramatic about-face on his December election loss to Barrow, at first conceding and then challenging the vote, appeared to be the final straw for the international community, which had been alarmed by his moves in recent years to declare an Islamic republic and leave the Commonwealth and the ICC.


Another reason he had to go!

Barrow’s adviser disavowed a joint declaration issued after Jammeh’s departure by the United Nations, African Union, and West African regional bloc ECOWAS that bestowed a number of protections upon Jammeh, his family, and his associates — including the assurance that their lawful assets would not be seized.

Unreal deal!

‘‘As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t exist,’’ Fatty said.

The declaration also said Jammeh’s exile was ‘‘temporary’’ and that he reserved the right to return to Gambia at the time of his choosing.

Although the declaration was written to provide Jammeh with maximum protection, it doesn’t give him amnesty, according to international human rights lawyer Reed Brody.

‘‘Under international law in fact you can’t amnesty certain crimes like torture and massive or systematic political killings,’’ he said in an e-mail. ‘‘Depending where Jammeh ends up, though, the real obstacles to holding him accountable will be political.’’

Barrow will now begin forming a Cabinet and working with Gambia’s national assembly to reverse the state of emergency Jammeh declared in his final days in power, said Halifa Sallah, spokesman for the coalition backing the new leader.

The president’s official residence, State House, needs to be cleared of any possible hazards before Barrow arrives, Sallah added.

The regional military force that had been poised to force out Jammeh if diplomatic efforts failed rolled into Gambia’s capital, Banjul, on Sunday night to secure it for Barrow’s arrival.

Hundreds greeted the force’s approach to State House, cheering and dancing.

The force will remain in the country ‘‘until such time the security general situation is comprehensively redressed,’’ Barrow said in a statement.

Marcel Alain de Souza, chairman of the regional bloc, said part of Gambia’s security forces needed to be ‘‘immobilized,’’ and he confirmed that Jammeh had had mercenaries by his side during the standoff. The former leader also had requested ‘‘a sort of amnesty’’ for him and his entourage and had wanted to remain in his home village, de Souza said.

With Jammeh gone, a country that had waited in silence during the crisis sprang back to life. Shops and restaurants opened, music played, and people danced in the streets.



"Gambia’s new president, still in Senegal, names female VP" Associated Press  January 24, 2017

BANJUL, Gambia — Gambia’s new vice president will be a female leader of the opposition coalition that helped bring new President Adama Barrow to power, a presidential spokesman announced Monday.

Regional troops continued security sweeps to prepare for Barrow’s return to the country he now rules.

The appointment of Aja Fatoumata Tambajang as vice president was announced at a press conference by coalition spokesman Halifa Sallah. He said the rest of Barrow’s Cabinet would be revealed Tuesday.

A former UN Development Program staffer, Tambajang helped Gambia’s opposition parties overcome their differences and unite against ousted President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a coup and ruled for 22 years.

Barrow remained in Senegal on Monday, where he traveled more than a week ago when it was uncertain whether Jammeh would acknowledge defeat in the December election and step down.

Barrow’s return date has not been set. The armed forces have pledged loyalty to him.


Probably been more on Gambia in my Globe the last two months than the last ten years I've been here.  

"Gambian lawmakers end country’s week-old state of emergency" by ABDOULIE JOHN Associated Press  January 25, 2017

BANJUL, Gambia — Gambia’s lawmakers on Tuesday lifted the country’s state of emergency and revoked a three-month extension of ousted leader Yahya Jammeh’s term, as the new government began dismantling his final attempts to cling to power.

Both measures were implemented last week as international pressure grew on Jammeh to cede power to Adama Barrow, who won the December election and was sworn in Thursday in neighboring Senegal. As regional troops were poised to move in, Jammeh finally agreed to step down and flew into exile Saturday night. Mediators said he was headed for Equatorial Guinea.

Then they did move in.

Barrow is expected to return home in the coming days. The troops deployed by the West African regional body known as ECOWAS continued security sweeps in Gambia on Tuesday to secure the country for his arrival.

Barrow has requested that the forces stay for six months, but it is unclear whether regional heads of state will approve a deployment of that length because ‘‘there is no fund for that now,’’ an ECOWAS spokesman, Liberor Doscof Aho, said Tuesday.

‘‘Normally they are supposed to stay for a few days, but because of the situation they will stay for one or two weeks to secure Banjul,’’ he said.

I will be anxiously awaiting the reports of their departure.


"Throngs cheer new president’s triumphant return to Gambia" by Carley Petesch Associated Press  January 27, 2017

BANJUL, Gambia — President Adama Barrow returned triumphantly to Gambia on Thursday, nearly two months after winning an election disputed by the country’s longtime dictator, to the cheers of hundreds of thousands who jammed the roads in welcome.

The impasse after the Dec. 1 balloting had brought Gambia to the brink of military intervention, as regional leaders vowed to install the democratically elected Barrow despite legal efforts by longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh to overturn the result of the vote. Barrow had flown to Banjul from Senegal, where he had waited for Jammeh to leave Gambia.

The authoritarian Jammeh oversaw a government accused of imprisoning, torturing, and killing his political opponents. Some political prisoners have been released, but the fate of many who have disappeared remains unknown.

‘‘Every Gambian must be free. We suffered for 22 years, but now enough is enough,’’ said Seedia Badjie, 37.

Jammeh, who had been accused of rigging previous elections during his regime, initially called Barrow to concede after the balloting. But when the talk began about whether he could be indicted on war crimes charges, Jammeh shocked the world with a dramatic about-face, saying he would not cede power after all.

The international community, alarmed by Jammeh’s unpredictability, said the election was fair and threw its support behind Barrow, a 51-year-old businessman.

Concerns emerged for Barrow’s safety, and regional mediators urged him to wait for Jammeh’s departure in neighboring Senegal. Ultimately, Barrow was sworn in Jan. 19 at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, though officials say another celebration will be held in Gambia.

Jammeh finally left Gambia for Equatorial Guinea last weekend, bowing to international pressure and ending his 22-year rule. Troops were poised to oust him if talks failed. Since then, they have been securing the country for Barrow’s arrival.

Nothing about what he took with him, huh?

A larger, more formal ceremony to welcome Barrow home will take place at a later date, spokesman Halifa Sallah said.

Gambia, with nearly 1.9 million people, has become an example in West Africa as the region strives for stable, democratic changes of power. The world watched as Gambians showed they wanted change, supporting opposition parties seeking greater freedoms....

Approved change, of course.


Made deal, now everyone is happy!


"Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, thanked his nation and promised greater freedom, an improved economy, and better education at a Saturday ceremony marking his inauguration. It followed a political standoff with the country’s former leader. Barrow first took the oath in neighboring Senegal in January as Yahya Jammeh refused to cede power. ‘‘This is a victory for democracy. It is a victory for all Gambians,’’ Barrow said at a packed stadium near the capital before several African heads of state (AP)."

Yeah, it's all smiles in Gambia ever since.