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[LIVE] Gambia Crisis: President Barrow sworn in, Jammeh still defiant

[LIVE] Gambia Crisis: President Barrow sworn in, Jammeh still defiant

Gambia

Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia is still in the country and holding himself out as President. This is despite the expiration of his mandate after midnight of Wednesday January 18. Jammeh was given a mandate extension of three months by the National Assembly.

He declared a 90-day state of emergency on Tuesday evening, a situation that makes the scheduled swearing-in of the president-elect, Adama Barrow, close to impossible at least on Gambian soil. Barrow’s camp insist the investiture will take place someway somehow.

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LIVE from Barrow’s investiture

[Photos] Preparations in Senegal for swearing-in of The Gambian President

There is high security at the premises of the Gambian embassy in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, where Adama Barrow is to be officially sworn in as President. Already the elections chief who declared him winner of the polls has arrived at the premises.

What remains unclear is who swears him in and how many African leaders will be present for the ceremony.

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US Embassy announces movement restrictions on The Gambia – Senegal border

President Jammeh or President Barrow: Safe to say Google is confused?

AU Chairperson fires at ‘unconstitutional’ Jammeh

According to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Africa must ensure that the will of the Gambian electorate as expressed in the December 1 polls hold and that Jammeh should hand over power.

Her position was included in a series of tweets as provided below:

President Jammeh or President Barrow: Safe to say Google is confused?

AU Chairperson fires at ‘unconstitutional’ Jammeh

According to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Africa must ensure that the will of the Gambian electorate as expressed in the December 1 polls hold and that Jammeh should hand over power.

Her position was included in a series of tweets as provided below:

“Save the Children” weeps for The Gambian child

An NGO known as “Save the Children” are concerned over the risk of a humanitarian emergency in the wake of the political impasse in The Gambia.

Their concerns are outlined in a press release of Wednesday January 18, 2017 titled, RISK OF HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY IN GAMBIA AND SENEGAL AS TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN ARE DISPLACED

UN estimates indicate that some 50,000 people have already left the urban centers and are heading towards the villages whiles others are quitting the country entirely.

“These children are largely fleeing to parts of both Gambia and Senegal where public services such as health facilities and schools are already under a great deal of strain,” said Save the Children’s Senegal Country Director Bonzi Mathurin.

Many people especially women and children are said to have left the country due to political uncertainty. Foreign nationals also thronged the Banjul airport on the last day of Jammeh’s tenure as there are fears that the airport could be closed at short notice.

Heavy security outside The Gambian embassy in Dakar

Botswana ‘no longer recognises Mr Jammeh’

Botswana is the first African country to publicly state that it does not recognise Yahya Jammeh as the President of The Gambia. A statement released a day after Jammeh’s tenure expired said everything should be done to ensure Jammeh respects the will of the people.

“Mr. Jammeh’s decision not to respect the will of the Gambian people undermines the ongoing efforts to consolidate democracy and good governance in The Gambia and Africa as a whole. This is also in direct contravention of the spirit and aspirations of the African Union Constitutive Act.

“The Government of Botswana therefore continues to appeal to the international community to do all within its power to exert pressure on Mr. Jammeh to hand over power in order to ensure a smooth transition,” the statement read in part.

Serekounda – town that affirmed Barrow’s victory ‘is like a ghost town’

The general desertion of towns in The Gambia is not restricted to only Banjul, as an influential journalist who has been covering the political situation tweets, Serekounda, the Gambia’s largest city is like a ‘ghost town.’

Serekounda was the last town which had its votes declared in the December 1 polls, hence sealing Barrow’s victory.

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[Photos] Streets of capital Banjul largely deserted

Photos from the capital Banjul confirm that there is quite as people have either decided to stay home or have quit the country out of fear of violence.

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An empty road is seen a day after President Jammeh’s mandate expired, in Banjul, Gambia. January 19, 2017.

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An empty road is seen a day after President Jammeh’s mandate expired, in Banjul, Gambia January 19, 2017.

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A man rides a bicycle a day after President Jammeh’s mandate expired, in Banjul, Gambia January 19, 2017.

Jammeh’s lawyer has reportedly jumped ship

Reports making the rounds on social media also indicate that Jammeh’s lawyer, Edward Anthony Gomez, has left the country to neighbouring Senegal.

As per a letter dated January 17, 2017; the same day Jammeh declared a state of emergency, Gomez asks his former employer to accept results of the December 1 polls in the interest of peace.

Gomez represented Jammeh and the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, (APRC) in two cases filed in the Supreme Court. Both cases – a poll petition and injunction on Barrow’s swearing-in could not be held due to the lack of judges.

He is not the first person to leave to Senegal, the head of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Alieu Momar Njie fled to Senegal after threats to his life. Other ministers who called on Jammeh to leave peacefully are also reported to be seeking refuge in Senegal.

The humanitarian crisis brewing from Jammeh’s position is also affecting especially Senegal and Guinea Bissau where most fleeing persons are heading for.

Senegal Presidency confirms failed intervention in The Gambia by Mauritanian president

Why Africa’s ‘smiling coast’ is referred to as ‘The’ Gambia

The Gambia is the official name of the smallest West African country. Yes, there is the need to put a definite article ‘The’ in front of Gambia.

Gambia – referred to as the smiling coast of Africa – shares that ‘pleasure’ with ‘The Bahamas.’ An English language expert, David Crystal explained why ‘The Gambia’ is ‘The Gambia.’

In an interview with the BBC, Crystal disclosed that two reasons came to play in arriving at that official position.

The Portuguese who first explored the country named it after the river known as ‘The River Gambia.’ The Portuguese thus named it ‘The Gambia.’ [In Portuguese A Gâmbia] So when Britain took over, they maintained that name.

A year to the attainment of independence in 1964, the then Prime Minister officially sought the consent of the Permanent Committee on geographical names based in the UK to keep the official title of ‘The Gambia.’

The reason was because of Zambia, The Gambia didn’t want to be confused with their Southern African brothers, Zambia seeing that only the first alphabets in their names are different.

The Commission which looks after naming of geographical locations in the world accented to the request.

Last ditch Mauritanian mediation fails

A last ditch attempt to get Jammeh to leave was led by Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. He landed in the Gambian capital Banjul on Wednesday evening and held talks with Jammeh but it failed to produce positive results.

Abdel Aziz subsequently left the Gambia and flew to neighbouring Senegal where he held talks with President Macky Sall. Before his effort however, the regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had led two unsuccessful efforts to Banjul.

With Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as lead mediator and Ghana’s John Mahama as co-mediator, the two were joined by ECOWAS Chairperson Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in mediation efforts that ended inconclusively on both legs.

Barrow will be sworn-in someway somehow

The spokesperson of Adama Barrow told the media in Banjul on Wednesday evening that the inauguration will be done through other means but in The Gambia. Ordinarily the event is supposed to take place at the National Stadium.

“It is very clear that the inauguration that should have taken place at the national stadium will not take place as planned … At this moment he (President-elect) is preparing for the inauguration through other means,” Halifa Sallah said without giving details.

“He will be inaugurated in The Gambia. We cannot understand where he will be inaugurated either than The Gambia because he is the President of The Gambia,” he insisted after he was questioned by the media.

Before this position was advanced, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffery Onyeama has stated that the event could take place outside of the Gambia because a Gambian embassy abroad was considered its territory.

‘‘It might be considered impractical for him to be inaugurated in Banjul, in which case it will be done on Gambian territory somewhere. Banjul is not the only part of Gambian territory and there are other parts of Gambian territory to which he (Barrow) would have access.

‘‘An embassy is a territory of a particular country that that embassy represents. The constitution provides for a swearing-in by a judge of a superior court and there are a number of those that are available,’‘ Onyeama told RFI English service.

Banjul Airport was a busy hub as 1000s of tourists rushed out

The Gambia’s only international airport in the capital, was a bustling place the whole of Wednesday as tourists – mostly from Europe – were evacuated from the tiny West African country over fears of violence as Jammeh’s tenure run out.

A statement from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) read in part, ‘‘If you’re currently in The Gambia you should leave by commercial means if you have no essential need to remain. The potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high and could result in Banjul International Airport being closed at short notice.’‘

Thousands of people were seen going through departure processes at the airport. A UK holiday company had specifically sent planes to return people who were likely to be stranded.

Calm reported in Banjul on Jammeh’s first day as ex-President

‘‘The Day of Glory and Triumph has dawned upon us. Welcome to The New Gambia,’‘ these are the words of Mai Ahmad Fatty.

Poeple have been tweeting the atmosphere in the capital, a day after Jammeh’s term officially ended. The general feeling is one of calm with the little people who are out conducting their businesses peacefully.

An Army that won’t fight, can it ‘defend’ Jammeh?

The Army Chief who pledged the loyalty of his troops to Jammeh earlier this year has said his troops will not fight any ‘invaders’ – as in the much talked about ECOWAS troops pooled from Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana.

“We are not going to involve ourselves militarily. This is a political dispute,” Ousman Badjie is reported to have said in Banjul on Wednesday night.

“I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight. I love my men,” he added, stopping to pose for selfies with admirers while dressed in fatigues, beret and green t-shirt, according to those present. If they (Senegalese) come in, we are here like this,” Badjie said, making a hands up to surrender gesture.

Has ECOWAS really issued the intervention order?

ECOWAS had reportedly issued an order for military intervention in The Gambia to oust President Yahya Jammeh at the stroke of midnight Thursday but there were reports also o Senegal seeking the support of the United Nations Security Council to intervene in the Gambia.

Combat troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana and other West African countries are already stationed at the border to jointly enter the country on air and by land in an operation to thwart any hostilities or breach of law in the country.

“The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has dispatched a contingent of 200 men, as well as an aviation fleet comprising combat aircraft, cargo ships, a helicopter and a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft in Dakar,” The NAF spokesperson, Ayodele Famuyiwa, said in a statement issued earlier.

ECOWAS had assured that military intervention will be the last resort while it attempted unsuccessfully to convince Jammeh to step down.

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