A United States Congressman, Eliot Engel, has described the current situation in the Gambia as ‘troubling.’
His concern is over the refusal of Yahya Jammeh to step down and peacefully handover executive power to Adama Barrow, who beat him in the December 1, 2016 elections according to the results by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Engel, who is a member of the US Foreign Affairs Committee represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester Counties in New York.
The targeting of the #Gambiahasdecided movement and the closure of private radio stations threaten the rights of Gambians to express their opposition to Jammeh’s attempt to stay in power.
Jammeh accepted his loss a day after the polls only to turn around a week later to announce the annullment of the process and ordering a rerun of the elections. He cited irregularities as the main reason for his decision.
Meanwhile, rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) have expressed worry over the arrest of opposition supporters and the clampdown on media as Jammeh continues to scheme to remain in power.
“The targeting of the #Gambiahasdecided movement and the closure of private radio stations threaten the rights of Gambians to express their opposition to Jammeh’s attempt to stay in power,” said Jim Wormington, HRW’s West Africa researcher. “It’s at times like this that free expression is most crucial.”
Jammeh’s party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) on December 13 filed an election petition in the Supreme Court. The first hearing of the case is scheduled for January 10, 2017; nine days to the investiture of Adama Barrow – the president-elect.
The Army have pledged allegiance to Jammeh in the midst of the impasse. The opposition coalition insist that they are going ahead with plans for Barrow’s inauguration. Jammeh has dismissed a regional mediation effort by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) describing it as ‘biased.’
The Head of the last elections, Alieu Momar Njie has fled to Senegal following death threats on his life. ECOWAS has hinted that it could send troops if need be, a position Jammeh has described as a declaration of war – which he says he is ready for.