The Rendon Group
Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.
Gambia President elect, Adama Barrow, center, sits during a meeting with Ecowas delegation in Banjul, Gambia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (AP)
This week’s snapshot focuses on long-time Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s rejection of the election results removing him from power and the ensuing political crisis. Jammeh has ruled for 22 years since his successful 1994 military coup, frequently punishing political dissidents. Amid fears of his rejection of the 01DEC16 election results, Jammeh promised to handover the reigns to president-elect Adama Barrow. A week after conceding defeat, Jammeh declared he no longer accepted the results, upending hopes for a peaceful political transition. He cited “unacceptable errors” and warned Gambian citizens not to protest his most recent decision. Diplomats in Gambia believe Jammeh waited a week because he became overly confident in his popularity before the vote and needed time to devise a strategy to fight the results once it was revealed he had lost. Initially, Jammeh called for a repeat of the election, and later boasted that the matter would be handled through the Gambian judiciary system, over which Jammeh holds tremendous influence. The United States, as well as the United Nations, criticized Jammeh’s call for fresh elections. Regional leaders have been especially critical, with ECOWAS vowing “to take all necessary action to enforce the results” of the 01DEC16 election if Jammeh refuses to step aside when his term expires in January.
News summary of events during the week of 05DEC16 – 19DEC16
- 05DEC: An appeals court in Gambia ordered the release of a top opposition politician and 18 others who were arrested after they took part in a peaceful protest earlier this year calling for political reforms. (AP)
- 06DEC: The electoral commission’s recount showed Adama Barrow won the election outright. (AFP)
- 07DEC: Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, the chair of the opposition coalition, said that the new government will seek to prosecute Yahya Jammeh, the country’s ruler for 22 years, when it takes power in January. (Guardian)
- 08DEC: President-elect Barrow said the country’s chief of the defense staff had called to pledge the army’s backing. (AFP)
- 09DEC: President-elect Barrow said his administration wants to repeal all laws that criminalize nonviolent protests in the country. (AP)
- 10DEC: President-elect Adama Barrow called on longtime leader Yahya Jammeh to drop his challenge to last week’s election results. (AFP)
- 11DEC: Incumbent President Jammeh said he will launch a legal challenge to contest an election defeat. (BBC)
- 12DEC: The United States said Gambia had reached “a very dangerous moment.” (Reuters)
- 13DEC: Gambia’s security forces entered the building of the Independent Electoral Commission, instructed its chairman to leave and barred other employees from entering, according to the chairman, Alieu Momarr Njai. (Reuters)
- 13DEC: The incumbent President Jammeh’s ruling party filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to void the recent presidential election result. (AFP)
- 14DEC: UN envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas said President Yahya Jammeh must step down when his mandate ends in January to enable opposition leader Adama Barrow to take office after his election win. (AFP)
- 15DEC: President-elect Adama Barrow said he will declare himself president on 18JAN17 despite incumbent Yahya Jammeh’s rejection of the election result. (BBC)
- 16DEC: The UN stopped controversial army chief General Badjie from visiting troops serving as peacekeepers in Darfur. (AFP)
- 17DEC: West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS must ensure President Yahya Jammeh steps down when his mandate ends in January because he lost an election, said the bloc’s chairwoman, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia. (AP)
- 18DEC: West African leaders announced they will travel to the Gambia in JAN2016 for the inauguration of Barrow despite the incumbent trying to retain power. (Guardian)
- 19DEC: Gambia’s president-elect said he is ready to take office in JAN2016 despite the refusal by the West African country’s longtime ruler to accept his election loss. (AP)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about the political crisis in Gambia
- @jwormington – Jim Wormington, West Africa Researcher, Human Rights Watch
- @MaggieFick – Maggie Fick, West Africa Correspondent, Financial Times
- @rakidi – Rachael Akidi, Editor, BBC Focus on Africa Radio
- @ruthmaclean – Ruth Maclean, West Africa Correspondent, The Guardian
- @saineymkmarenah – Sainey M.K. Marenah, Journalist, SMBC News
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the political crisis in Gambia
Alex Vines, Research Director of Africa Program, Chatham House
“I think what is behind all this is that President Jammeh last Friday got scared, because there had been media reports that the incoming administration of President-elect Barrow was considering judicial processes against President Jammeh.”
- “Gambia’s Jammeh under pressure,” DW, 12DEC16
Babacar Justin Ndiaye, Political Analyst
“It’s a strategy of giving him time, making the situation worse, wearing down the international community and finally to look for some sort of compromise, an arrangement.”
- “Gambia’s Jammeh: from TV concession to courtroom drama,” AFP, 16DEC16
Babatunde Olugboji, Deputy Program Director, Human Rights Watch
“The international community, notably [regional bloc] Ecowas and the African Union, should loudly protest any unlawful attempt to subvert the will of the Gambian people.”
- “Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh rejects election result,” BBC, 10DEC16
Kamissa Camara, Founder, Sahel Strategy Forum
“Winners are those who can unite various forces that in the past have pursued their own, separate interests and split the vote. Outcomes such as the one we’re seeing today in Gambia will definitely send the signal that elections are not for nothing.”
- “Gambia’s President, in Power 22 Years, Loses Election,” NYT, 02DEC16
Sabrina Mahtani, West Africa Researcher, Amnesty International
“President Jammeh’s rejection of the election results and his statement that he will not tolerate protest risks leading to instability and possible repression.”
- “Gambia’s Jammeh to contest election result in court,” AFP, 11DEC16
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the political crisis in Gambia
- Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh to challenge election loss at top court
Media: The Independent (UK)
Byline: Samuel Osborne
Date: 11 December 2016
The election results threaten to end Mr Jammeh’s 22 years of autocratic rule.
Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has said he will challenge the results of last week’s election, in which a shock opposition victory threatened to end 22 years of autocratic rule.
Celebrations erupted across the tiny West African nation last week when Mr Jammeh unexpectedly conceded defeat after the elections commission announced the victory of opposition candidate Adama Barrow.
- West African Leaders to Ask Gambia’s Jammeh to Step Down
Media: Voice of America
Date: 12 December 2016
West African leaders will travel to Gambia on Tuesday in an effort to convince longtime President Yahya Jammeh to step down after his loss in the December 1 election.
Jammeh initially conceded defeat to election winner Adama Barrow but withdrew his concession late Friday, saying “unacceptable errors” were found by election officials.
- Yahya Jammeh, Gambian President, Now Refuses to Accept Election Defeat
Media: New York Times
Byline: DIONNE SEARCEY and JAIME YAYA BARRY
Date: 13 December 2016
DAKAR, Senegal — The fate of the presidency in Gambia took a peculiar turn Friday night when the longtime incumbent appeared on state television to announce that he was rejecting the results of last week’s vote that ousted him. He also called for new elections.
Seated in front of microphones and between two flags, President Yahya Jammeh rattled off accusations of voter irregularities, from transposed numbers in tabulations to missing numbers that he said left in question the results of the election that handed the presidency to Adama Barrow.
- UN cancels controversial Gambia army chief’s Darfur visit
Media: Agence France-Presse (AFP)
Date: 16 December 2016
The UN has stopped The Gambia’s controversial army chief from visiting troops serving as peacekeepers in Darfur, as international pressure grows on Gambian top brass to accept incoming president-elect Adama Barrow.
Gambian security forces seized the country’s Independent Electoral Commission on Tuesday, drawing international condemnation in the context of a contested presidential election held on December 1.
President Yahya Jammeh, who initially conceded defeat, has now lodged a Supreme Court case to challenge the result.
- Gambia president-elect plans inauguration amid vote dispute
Media: Associated Press
Date: 19 December 2016
DAKAR, Senegal – Gambia’s president-elect says he is ready to take office in January despite the refusal by the West African country’s longtime ruler to accept his election loss.
“On the day his term expires, my term as the lawful president of the Gambia begins,” Adama Barrow said in a statement late Sunday. “This is the law of the land. My status as incoming president has unquestionable constitutional legitimacy.”