17.01.2017 – Banjul, The Gambia Pressenza Budapest

Tensions rise in the Gambia as Adama Barrow’s inauguration day approaches
A Gambian soldier salutes during Senegal’s national anthem during the opening ceremonies for Western Accord 2012 in Thies, Senegal, June 9, 2012. (Image by US dept of Defence, SrA Sarah Mattison)

The Gambia is still in a serious political crisis. President Yahya Jammeh, defeated in last year’s election still insists that he is not going to step down when his terms expires on the 18th of January 2017. On the other hand, President-elect Adama Barrow has said he will be inaugurated come the 19th of January 2017.

The African Union says it will cease to recognize Jammeh as the legitimate president of the Gambia effective January 19th when his mandate officially expires.

The regional bloc arrived at its latest decision after a Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting held on Friday 13th January 2017, the same day as mediators from the Community of West African states (ECOWAS) returned to the country to mediate in the post-election impasse.

The Africa Union outlined measures it will take with a view to ensuring respect for the will of the Gambian people. Measures may include deploying military troops to forcefully remove Jammeh.

Thousands of Gambians, fearing unrest in the country are fleeing to Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau.

After the second and final peaceful negotiations in the Gambia, ECOWAS said both attempts had failed to convince Yahya Jammeh to peacefully accept the will of the people.

President-elect Barrow was taken by the ECOWAS team to Mali for him to witness the African Mali-France summit in which talks were held about the political impasse in the Gambia.

The one-day summit was held on Saturday the 14th of January. After the summit, the gathered presidents unanimously agreed that the Senegalese president, Macky Sall, will host President-elect Barrow until the 19th of January when he will be taken to the Gambia, by force if necessary, to be sworn in.

West African leaders have announced that they will travel to the Gambia on January 19th for Barrow’s inauguration despite the incumbent president Yahya Jammeh trying to cling to power.

In other developments, twelve foreign diplomats and ambassadors have resigned from their mandated posts having written a letter asking Jammeh to accept the will of the people.

Two ministers have also resigned Alieu K. Jammeh and Sheriff Bojang, who were the Minister of Youth and Sports and the Secretary General of Presidential Affairs, respectively.

Education in the Gambia is in a difficult situation.  The University of the Gambia, the highest institution has boycotted exams and lectures. Primary, junior and secondary schools students are also not reporting, in fact most of them have left the cities. Everything is gearing up for political unrest in the country.

Businesses in the Gambia are not running smoothly and asset-owners and wealthy people are stopping investment in the economy and most of them are sending their money overseas, something which risks pushing the country into recession.

Gambian youth are playing a vital role in the political crisis. Thousands of T-shirts have been printed with the logo “#GambiaHasDecided”. Soldiers have been given orders by Jammeh to arrest and torture those who wear the shirt.

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