Gambia military and security forces thwart democracy, seek to defend Jammeh

Banjul –  To perpetuate the illegitimate claims of a military commander turned president of the Gambia, the army and other national security forces in The Gambia continue to destabilize the country’s democratization process.

Since last Tuesday, the army and other security forces in the country have blocked access to key government institutions, including the country’s national elections commission.

President Jammeh (middle in red cap) and his band of soldiers

Per sources, the army blocked the entrance to the electoral commission in Gambia’s capital, Banjul, as outgoing President Yayah Jammeh illegally refuses to accept he lost presidential polls. Alieu Momarr Njie, the chair of the electoral commission has already called on Jammeh to admit defeat and turn power over to the President-elect Adama Barrow.

In view of Chairman Njie’s impartiality and fair stance with respect to the electoral results, the army which largely supports Jammeh and which he has used over the years to rule the country with iron fist, denied the chairman entry to his offices.

Defeated President Jammeh

Gambia’s chief of defence staff, Ousman Badjie, told local and international journalists that he remains loyal to defeated President Jammeh, and that the country’s military would help the autocrat to stay in power.

Earlier on Tuesday, an African Union (AU) delegation arrived in Banjul, hoping to persuade Jammeh to accept his loss in the country’s December 1 election and hand over power to president-elect Adama Barrow.

Jammeh, 51-year-old, has ruled the West African country for 22 years with an iron fist.  He had earlier conceded defeat to opposition leader Adama Barrow, but then deployed heavily armed military and police to the streets of the capital Banjul to prevent Barrow who is supposed to take power in January from doing so.

In the wake of the fracas, the African Union release a statement saying, the AU “strongly rejects any attempt to circumvent or reverse the outcome of the presidential election held in the Gambia …, a clear expression of the popular will and choice of the Gambian people,” the organization said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a high level regional delegation comprising heads of state in West Africa has visited the country to persuade the autocrat to relinquish power.

The delegation includes: Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who also chairs the Economic Commission of West African State (ECOWAS); Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma; President Alpha Conde of Guinea; as well as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. The delegation has also conducted talks with the president-elect and members of the opposition coalition, which supported Barrow’s bid for the presidency.

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Ben Mabande

Ben Mabande is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.
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