Gambian president-elect Adama Barrow (C), flanked by his supporters arrives at a hotel in Banjul, for a meeting with four African heads of state on December 13, 2016.
Four African heads of state landed in The Gambia today with a mission to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to leave office, as the country's election commission was locked down by police. Jammeh's party has vowed to challenge the result of a presidential election in court, unleashing an avalanche of calls at home and abroad for him to cede power to opponent Adama Barrow, who was officially declared the winner.
 / AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU

Tension flares between supporters of Gambia’s ex-autocrat and new leader

Supporters of the Gambia’s ex-President Yahya Jammeh and that of the country’s new leader Adama Barrow clashed in Busumbala village, just outside the city of Brikama.

Properties were damaged and several people injured, including children with one woman sustaining a broken leg, according to eyewitnesses. Tens of villagers were armed with machetes, sticks, spades, stones and any weapon they could be armed with.

Villagers said they were on a hunt for supporters of the ex-ruling APRC party who allegedly provoked and attacked some villagers.

They were stopping vehicles, throwing stones at them and insulting on the highway linking Brikama to the commercial city of Serrekunda.

“Nothing has ever scared me about my country more than what I saw this night. Reminds me of things I don’t want to say. Only a few dozen paramilitary men present and the number is too small to control the mob,” said journalist Saikou Jammeh.

Several people were arrested, according to Vlogger Fatoumata Coker, who was nearby and had live-streamed the unfolding event. Residents provoking the police said security forces were unable to protect them for 10 hours.

It is the second time in fewer than three months that supporters of the ex-president, Yahya Jammeh and that of the new government clashed in Busumbala.

“It appears an anarchy nest is being hatched. Our authorities need to rise up and take this problem with the seriousness it deserves. What is charting our nation is a recipe for disaster and must be robustly confronted without compromise,” said political commentator, Tijan Masanneh Ceesay.

Wednesday’s clashes came just a day after President Barrow expressed regret at an attack on the APRC convoy in his native village of Mankamang Kunda that left three opposition supporters wounded.

At least four people were seriously injured, all of them from the APRC in what the opposition said was an attack on their convoy in October.

Barrow defeated the APRC, which has ruled The Gambia under Jammeh. Jammeh has since gone into hiding in Equatorial Guinea, where he has been given asylum.

The APRC regime has been accused of human and civil rights violations. While the party’s new leaders refused to disassociate itself from Jammeh, it has been on a robust campaign to rebrand itself and remain relevant.

The party is on a nationwide tour drumming up more support ahead of the April local government elections, which will be the ultimate test of the party’s strength barely a year after losing its majority stake in the National Assembly.

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