Gambia’s president vows to remain in power

Gambian incumbent Yahya Jammeh (L) speaks with his wife, Zeineb Souma Jammeh, on November 24, 2011 as he leaves a polling station in the capital Banjul after voting in the presidential elections. Gambians voted on November 24 in polls, which some observers said were skewed in favor of Jammeh, who heaped scorn on criticism that his regime is repressive. The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) withdrew plans to send observers for the election, saying Jammeh's control of the media and intimidation of voters meant polls in the continent's smallest country could not be "free, fair and transparent". AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)
Gambian incumbent Yahya Jammeh (L) speaks with his wife, Zeineb Souma Jammeh, on November 24, 2011 as he leaves a polling station in the capital Banjul after voting in the presidential elections. Gambians voted on November 24 in polls, which some observers said were skewed in favor of Jammeh, who heaped scorn on criticism that his regime is repressive. The 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) withdrew plans to send observers for the election, saying Jammeh’s control of the media and intimidation of voters meant polls in the continent’s smallest country could not be “free, fair and transparent”. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia has vowed to remain in power even after losing an election slated for December 1. Jammeh said no election, military expedition or foreign intervention will end his 22- year rule of Western Africa’s smallest nation.

“No election, no military, and no foreign power can remove me from power. If the people want they can vote for the opposition but they will never be President in this country. They will not even be members of the National Assembly. I am elected by Allah and Allah’s election is better than the whole world,” said Jammeh, who is seeking a fifth mandate.

It is Jammeh’s first statement on the country’s upcoming election but not the first time the military-backed strongman has made such a statement. Jammeh has told the BBC that he would rule for a billion years.

Opposition groups in The Gambia united in a coalition and selected the main opposition UDP’s Adama Barrow as it presidential nominee to challenge Jammeh this winter. It is the first time a majority of the major opposition parties in former British colony came together since gaining independence some 51 years ago.

President Yahya Jammeh has called the opposition “worms and dogs,” threatening to extinguish them and calling labelled them enemies of the state.

“I have no opposition,” said Jammeh. “They are just enemies of the state who are sponsored by foreign powers hellbent on destroying the peace and stability of this country. I won’t leave this country to such dogs.”

Jammeh took a unilateral decision last month making The Gambia one of three African nations withdrawing from the International Criminal Court. Rights activists say it is part of Jammeh’s grand scheme for post-electoral violence.

Human Rights Watch on Monday said Gambian authorities are cracking down on opposition activists ahead of the presidential polls. At least two opposition members have died in custody after security forces used excessive force to suppress rare anti-government protests in and around the Banjul’s suburbs.

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