Gambian presidential inauguration will go ahead in Senegal

By Drum Digital
19 January 2017

The world awaits the inauguration of newly-elected Gambian president, Adama Barrow, who defeated former president Yahya Jammeh at the polls, and later refused to step down.

Gambian elections took place on 2 December 2016 and Jammeh has employed several delay tactics to try and remain in power.

Despite this, experts say they are expecting a smooth inauguration as it will not be held on Gambian soil but will take place at 4 pm today at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.

Sipho Mantula, researcher at the Institution for Dispute Resolution in Africa, says having the inauguration at a local stadium, as is tradition in most African countries, would have put the lives of citizens in danger.

However, military troops from Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana are on standby to ensure a smooth process takes place.

“It has been difficult for Jammeh to let go of power because of religious fundamentalism where he believes that Allah wants him to reign forever and he feels like the ultimate ruler of Gambia which is an Islamic state,” he says.

“African leaders struggle to let go of power because they are looking at their stomachs and corrupt practices and they know that once they are shut out they will no longer enjoy those benefits.”

Mantula explains that in the lead up to the elections, Jammeh had a strong hand in suppressing media freedom with radio stations being shut down and courts being unable to function and uphold the rule of law.

“Gambia has been at the forefront of human rights violation, they have suppressed press freedom, homosexuality practices are not allowed, it is plagued with corruption and poverty. They also followed South Africa’s lead by withdrawing from the International Crime Court,” he adds.

Military intervention was not the only option for Gambia when Jammeh refused to step down, Mantula says political diplomatic dialogue was an option, however, those attempts failed dismally.

President-elect, Adama Barrow, emerged from a coalition of opposition parties which put him in a strong lead in the elections.

Jammeh mostly relied on his electoral petition to the Gambian electoral court to deem the elections void, putting forward a complaint that his supporters were not allowed to vote.

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