A constitutional coup in The Gambia

A constitutional coup in The Gambia

As Barrow lays out his plans and vision for a new Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh was busy hatching a constitutional overthrow of the democratically elected leader of The Gambia.

If not for anything, President-elect Barrow has shown some resistance and defiance declaring that new elections will not be held.

President Yahya Jammeh came to power through a bloodless coup in 1994. His reign has not been as bloodless and amid the rising political tension in The Gambia, one thing may be certainly true: Jammeh fears being held liable for crimes against the state.

President Yahya Jammeh has been accused by rights groups of extensive and well-documented human rights abuses and violations.

Forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and other human rights violations went unabated under the government of President Yahya Jammeh. Gambian authorities routinely target voices of dissent, including journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critics, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Two UN special rapporteurs, who in 2014 gained access to the country for the first time, concluded that “torture is a consistent practice” by authorities and “avoiding arrest is a necessary preoccupation” for ordinary Gambians.

Jammeh signed into law draconian laws to strengthen his hold on to power, but Gambians have already had enough of the impunity. Jammeh hit a dead end after security forces used extreme force to squash opposition protests for electoral reform, the release of Solo Sandeng and to end the prosecution of Ousainou Darboe with other opposition detainees.

Sandeng was tortured to death in custody. More than eight months after his death in custody of Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency (NIA), his family still hasn’t seen the body. They may never see it again or know the entire truth as long as Jammeh is president.

“It is really hard to grieve when you haven’t had the chance to see the body – when no one has seen the body,” said Sandeng’s wife, Nyima to Human Rights Watch. “When you can’t confirm that you have lost a family member, it makes you think, maybe they are still hiding him.”

For many who thought accusations against President Yahya Jammeh’s many killings, tortures, and enforced detentions were lies against him by diasporan activists, the truth started to manifest.

As elections results started crippling in, President Jammeh knew he lost the polls. He wanted the IEC Chair to stop announcing them. He so quickly conceded defeat we had to end up knowing the results for the remaining nine constituencies through a live updated spreadsheet.

Jammeh called his ministers and advised that in January that will be part of the unemployment figures. The police and military chief advised that they will uphold the wishes of the people and were on the national television to congratulate President-elect Barrow and the coalition and pledge allegiance to him and the country.

Rumors of a coup were rife. We all thought it was going to a military coup led by loyalists of Mr. Jammeh within his elite presidential guard battalion to install a new military government that will protect Jammeh and allow him to assert authority as a defacto leader. The UN warned that any coup attempt will be met with resistance by the international community.

The coup we did not have in mind was a constitutional coup. Jammeh declared the elections were rigged and thus annulled it. But he does not have the authority to do so. His declarations were supreme to the constitution but those days are over. The mystification of Jammeh ended and he is trying to assert authority to revive himself as a strongman. He said he would now challenge the results at the Supreme Court, but his 10 days has expired. Outgoing President Jammeh wants to create a hostile political environment, cause chaos and post-electoral violence to extend his rule.

It is nothing else, but a constitutional overthrow of the democratically elected President of The Gambia, Mr. Adama Barrow to interpret certain parts of the constitution intentionally wrongly to clinch on to power.

Gambians have rejected Jammeh’s rejection and the international community has declared his rejection as “null and void.” His government is illegitimate. This is why Barrow must form his government, assert his authority and get to work with the international community.

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