From taking down #GambiaHasDecided posters to defacing Jammeh

From taking down #GambiaHasDecided posters to defacing Jammeh

Gambians are anxiously awaiting the homecoming of their new President Adama Barrow after former longstanding ruler President Yahya Jammeh fled to exile.

In his effort to regain control, Jammeh launched a wave of arrest and renewed his crackdown on dissenting voices before he was forced to leave.

At the Westfield Square, the epicenter of a pro-opposition protest that led to the arrest and killing of Ebrima Solo Sandeng, a new group of young people put up billboards reading: #GambiaHasDecided.

The rise of the billboards saw a handful of pro-democracy grassroots supporters arrested and campaign leaders going into hiding.

#GambiaHasDecided was more than a hashtag. It was a movement that was asserting President Yahya Jammeh to step aside and replacing billboards that showed his image. The movement was so popular among young people, Jammeh had to send out members of his elite presidential guard to remove the billboards.

One by one, soldiers from the State Guard took them down. Defiantly, more of the billboards start springing up keeping soldiers loyal to the former ruler busy hunting those behind the campaign.

Jammeh went into exile on Saturday ending 22-years of the rule of fear under his regime. The strongman was abandoned by his cabinet ministers and the military high command in the last week of his mandate.

ECOMIG troops, a regional force of about 7,000 soldiers have entered Gambia and disarmed its military. They took control of the capital and secured the presidential palace ahead of the arrival of the new president, Adama Barrow.

Jammeh is not only getting replaced with President Barrow and #GambiaHasDecided billboards, his image is getting painted off on the streets of the Gambia and even at the entrances of military barracks.

Entering the Gambia, in the city of Yundum, you are forced to see a painting of the former military-backed president at the entrance of the Yundum Barracks, home of the infantry battalion.

With a brush, soldiers smile as a paint off the image of their former commander-in-chief, who came to power through a military coup in 1994.

When Jammeh lost the polls last month, youths took to the streets and brought down large posters of him.

During the Christmas, what seemed to be a tradition to have images of him with season greetings were nowhere to be seen. The once feared tyrant was demystified and demoralized by the taking down of the images.

And now that his military is stripping his images from their barracks and pledging loyalty to their new commander-in-chief, Jammeh must be coming to the reality that is painful to lose the beauty of home and having to live in exile. It is beyond losing power.

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