The Gambia: Jammeh's rule in six dates

2017-01-18 19:26
Yahya Jammeh (File: AFP)

Yahya Jammeh (File: AFP)

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Banjul - Key dates in the 22-year regime of Yahya Jammeh, the strongman who has ruled The Gambia since 1994, and who is contesting his defeat in December's presidential elections.

A bloodless coup 

On July 22, 1994, Jammeh leads a group of young army officers in the bloodless overthrow of Dawda Jawara, the country's first president who had been in power for nearly 30 years. Jammeh, 29, is made chairman of an Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council and bans political activity.

Four months later, an attempted coup is foiled, with further bids to overthrow him thwarted in the following years.

 Return to civilian rule 

On September 26, 1996, Jammeh wins a presidential election but observers express doubts about the transparency of the vote.

Four months later, Jammeh's party wins legislative elections, completing the return to civilian rule after two-and-a-half years of military regime.

Jammeh is re-elected three times, in 2001, 2006 and 2011.

 Presidential palace attacked 

On December 30, 2014, Jammeh's forces foil a heavily-armed attack by disaffected soldiers on the presidential palace in the capital Banjul.

The president is in Dubai at the time.

Three soldiers accused of involvement are sentenced to death, and three others receive life in prison after a secret trial before a military tribunal, according to Amnesty International and the military.

 Clampdown on opposition 

On April 14, 2016, Solo Sandeng, a leading figure in the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), is arrested while leading a demonstration for political reform.

He dies in custody.

Two days later, protests erupt with supporters demanding answers over Sandeng's death. Security forces crack down on demonstrators and arrest UDP chief Ousainou Darboe, a human rights lawyer, and other party leaders.

On July 20, Darboe and about 30 other co-accused are sentenced to three years in jail for six offences related to the April 16 protest.

A month later, UDP official Ebrima Solo Kurumah dies in custody, becoming the second opposition figure to die in detention in just over months.


On May 28, 2016, Amnesty International accuses the regime of "murder" and criticises the passivity of The Gambia's West African neighbours over the deteriorating rights situation.

A month before December's presidential election, Human Rights Watch says intimidation of opposition parties, media repression and politicised security forces have "all but extinguished" the chance of a free and fair ballot.

Post-vote crisis 

On December 1, Jammeh is defeated by Adama Barrow and initially concedes the vote, before changing his mind a week later and rejecting it as flawed.

Jammeh lodges a complaint with the country's Supreme Court, which on January 10 says it cannot hear the challenge immediately owing to a lack of judges.

On January 17, Jammeh declares a state of emergency just two days before he is to step down, prompting British and Dutch travel agencies to scramble to evacuate thousands of tourists.

Read more on:    yahya jammeh  |  adama barrow  |  gambia  |  gambia 2016 elections  |  west africa

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