The Gambia’s opposition coalition that defeated the West African nation’s longtime authoritarian ruler, who is refusing to hand over power, says outgoing President Yahya Jammeh needs to improve his human rights records by releasing all those who have been detained without trial as part of the process of a smooth transfer of power.
At least two radio stations remain close and a handful of pro-democracy activists went into hiding, a wave of arrest saw campaigners detained and a clampdown on dissidents mounted.
Gambia’s electoral chief has fled the country after receiving deaths threats over the presidential victory of Adama Barrow. Barrow’s victory was seen as an unexpected triumph for democracy in Gambia, which gained independence from Britain in 1965 but has since had only two presidents.
Gambia’s President-elect does not want to inherit a country where media freedom is fettered and human rights violated with impunity.
Halifa Sallah, a spokesperson for Mr. Barrow said the incoming administration intends to do everything it could to prevail on the institutions of the state to uphold and protect the fundamental rights of the citizens.
Jammeh risks a showdown with a regional military force if he refuses to hand over power on January 18. Despite Jammeh’s court petition challenging the results, Barrow has vowed to swear himself in.
“I am not a coward. My right cannot be intimidated and violated. This is my position. Nobody can deprive me of that victory except the Almighty Allah,” Jammeh said.