Gambia’s President Change

After 22 Years President Yahya Jammeh is Replaced By Adama Barrow

Gambias new president,  Adama Barrow

Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow

Allison Markowski , Writer

After twenty-two years, Gambian president Yahya Jammeh resigned from his position. The resignation made Jammeh supporters melancholy, but multiple others were relieved at his departure, and felt that Gambia was ready for a change. Jammeh started as an army official in 1994, and was elected president in 1996. He was then re-elected in 2001, 2006, and 2011. Jammeh’s ruling style was authoritarian, with a penchant for harsh and violent public punishments. Excepting the 1994 elections, there were many rumors that he found a way to rig the elections in an effort to remain in power. On December 1st 2016, Jammeh lost to Gambian businessman, Adama Barrow. At first, Gambian citizens were shocked that, after 22 years as head of the Gambian government, Jammeh was defeated, but many realized that someone new could be a good thing.

Shortly after his loss, Jammeh called Barrow to congratulate him on his victory. It was declared that Barrow would be sworn in on January 19th 2017. Only a week following his loss, Jammeh announced that the votes were a fraud and there would be a makeup election. Because of this statement, the Economic Community of West African States met to discuss what should happen, and came to the conclusion that Jammeh would give up power on January 19th.  ECOWAS is a group of 15 countries, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte D’ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo, who come together when there are issues in any one of these areas.

In response to the ECOWAS statement, Jammeh released his own, saying the statement was a declaration of war. The Senegalese sent in troops targeting Banjul, the capital. Abdou Ndiaye, Senegalese army spokesman stated, “It is already war. If we find any resistance, we will fight it. If there are people who are fighting for the former president, we will fight them. The main goal is to restore democracy and to allow the new elected president to take over.” It was also said there was no resistance getting to Banjul. The reasoning behind this comes from Gambian army chief Ousman Badjie. He states, “I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight, I love my men.” As a result, 7,000 men were sent in with the goal to diminish the authoritarian lifestyle and reform it into a democracy.

On January 19th, Barrow was officially sworn in in Senegal. During his inaugural speech, he stated that anyone outside their barracks bearing a weapon would be considered a “rebel” and would be punished. The following day, Jammeh was given the option to leave Gambia peacefully by noon, or to be forcibly removed by army troops. Jammeh willingly left the country, and is now exiled from Gambia. As of this moment, the ECOWAS are deciding whether or not Jammeh should be granted the right to to visit or live in Gambia again. Now that Adama Barrow is president, there is hope of a democratic future.