By Yankuba Jallow
For the first time in the history of The Gambia a change of government through the ballot box happened on December 1, 2016, in which Coalition 2016 were declared the winner. The December 1 election was termed or described as the most transparent and even the incumbent has attested to that fact.
On December 9, 2016, President Yahya Jammeh took a change of stand by declaring his total rejection of the election results and thereby said he had annulled the declared election results. In addition, this had many effects in the country which include Gambia always on international news headlines, ECOWAS mediation efforts, the APRC election petition, massive fleeing, numerous statements by the outgoing and incoming presidents bureaus of residents, arrest of civilians, arrest of military personnel, etc which is leading the country into commotion or pandemonium.
Firstly, The Gambia is always on the forefront of international magazines, newspapers, radios and televisions which had happened but long ago during the 1994 and the 1981 eras. It caused the peoples outside the country to call on their love ones to flee the country for the safety of their lives and also caused ECOWAS, AU, EU, UN and many other international organisations both in the country and outside to discuss the issues related to the country which as stated inter alia has not happen for two decades.
In addition, the ECOWAS formed a mediation team to come to The Gambia to come and resolve the political crisis in the country by persuading both the Incoming and Outgoing Presidents to come to the to the table and solve the matter amicably. They have come to the country twice which were all fruitless.
Thirdly, the Incumbent’s Party APRC has filed an election petition in which they claim is their Constitutional right and is in accordance with Section 49 of the 1997 Constitution. There have been two proceedings but the matter is still at the preliminary stage and has been adjourned till May or November).
Every day since December 9, 2016, both Gambians and foreigners are seen fleeing to Senegal and some neighbouring countries en masse. They do so because they are terrified and are so scared of the consequences of President Jammeh’s refusal of the verdict of the electorate.
Students and legal practitioners boycott school and court proceedings respectively. The Gambia Bar Association issued a press release saying that all legal practitioners should boycott court proceedings and they went ahead with another release urging the Chief Justice to step down. Schools resumed in early January but seldom any student is seen or even their teachers. The University of The Gambia, Bar School, and many other educational institutions are not conducting classes.
The outgoing President and Incoming President bureaus issue releases every time. Whenever the outgoing President declares or makes a public speech, the Office of the Incoming President responds to him. Several Civil Society Organisations have issued press releases urging President Jammeh to accept the verdict of the people and remind him that it is God’s decision.
The arrest of civilians in the country intensifies as the days go by. Those who sell or wear the T-Shirt #GambiaHasDecided were and are still subjected to unlawful arrest. Some were found in their respective shops whilst others were just wearing or in possession of them.
Few days ago, it is been brought to the notice of the public of the arrest of some military officials in the Greater Banjul Area. How many are arrested cannot be confirmed but it is brought to the notice of Foroyaa that some are arrested and it is continuing.
It is paramount for this unfavourable political situation to be solved and it should be in the focal cognition of any rational peace loving person. Students’ right to education, those in detention whose trials are still on, those arrested now having the right to free and speedy trial, people’s right to personal liberty, freedom of movement and their political right are all issues that ought to be solved for the continuity of order and rule of law.