The political situation in The Gambia is still attracting international attention with the latest twist being the declaration by outgoing Yahya Jammeh of a three month state of emergency.
This decision backed by the National Assembly comes barely hours to the expiration of Jammeh’s tenure (January 19) and the swearing-in of the president-elect Adama Barrow.
But events leading to the stage we are today started from mid-November 2016 when the electoral body opened campaigning for parties. The voting went on peacefully on December 1, Jammeh accepted the results and was hailed internationally.
There is no reason to protest because the election cannot be rigged, and in this country, anyway, we do not allow demonstrations. Nothing will happen, this is not the first time we organized elections.
Before long he backtracked on his initial position. He played deaf to international condemnation, he would not accept offers by regional mediators and has refused to step down despite military intervention threats.
We present a first part of a chronology of events since November 15 till date
November 15Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) opens campaigning for presidential elections.
The main contenders were incumbent Yahya Jammeh with the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, (APRC). Opposition coalition Adama Barrow – a group of 7 parties and Mamah Kandeh – former member of APRC.
November 18Jammeh warns against electoral violence
November 19European Union observers barred from The Gambia
November 30Jammeh warns that no protests will be tolerated after polls because the system cannot be rigged.
“There is no reason to protest because the election cannot be rigged, and in this country, anyway, we do not allow demonstrations. Nothing will happen, this is not the first time we organized elections,” Jammeh said on last day of campaigning.
December 1Day of polls – voting takes place across the country amid internet and telephone lines blockage, government refuses to restore service.
886, 578 voters are expected at 1,422 polling stations in 53 constituencies in the seven administrative regions of The Gambia
December 2Poll counting takes place, IEC boss, Momar Ndjie discloses that Jammeh was ready to concede defeat, declares Adama Barrow as winner. Celebrations erupt across the country.
December 3Video released showing Jammeh’s concession call to Barrow. Gambia earns international praise for their political maturity.
The United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), the United States (US), the United Kingdom (UK), the European Union (EU) and a host others lauded Jammeh’s position and urged peaceful transition and handover of power.
December 5Gambian opposition members released by High Court
December 7IEC rectifies result collation discrepancy but still maintains Barrow victory
The original results were as follows:
Adama Barrow won 263,515 votes (45.5%)
President Jammeh took 212,099 (36.7%)
A third party candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 102,969 (17.8%)
The amended results published after the correction:
Adama Barrow won 222,708 votes (43.3%)
President Jammeh took 208,487 (39.6%)
Mama Kandeh, won 89,768 (17.1%)
December 9Jammeh in televised address annuls polls and orders rerun citing discrepancy in results collation. Opposition fights back that Barrow has no power to annul polls.
December 10Senegal, the Gambia’s only landward neighbor expresses dismay at Jammeh, calls for diplomatic intervention Same day plane of ECOWAS president refused landing at Banjul airport by authorities Flood of international condemnation for Jammeh’s U-turn. AU, EU, US, OIC etc.
December 13ECOWAS delegation flies into Banjul to mediate, meets with Jammeh and Barrow separately, says to issue a statement at Summit in Abuja. Jammeh’s party filed an election petition in the Supreme Court, Chief Justice slates January 10 for preliminary hearing. Offices of IEC stormed by security officials, all staff sent home. New round of condemnation. Different sections of the society call on Jammeh to peacefully hand over political power.
December 17ECOWAS meets in Abuja says will stand by poll results, grant Barrow protection and attend his inauguration scheduled for January 19.
December 20US envoy who asks Jammeh to accept results recalled. 11 others join to ask for him to step down. AU and UN laud ECOWAS for firm stands on the Gambia.
December 21Jammeh meets with African Bar Association, rephrases his position of not accepting results and says he may not have won but neither did Barrow.
Wants fresh polls with truly independent and God fearing commission. Dares ECOWAS to intervene militarily and says he is ready for war.
Shaban Abdur Rahman Alfa
Africanews, web journalist
Congo, Pointe Noire