Posts tagged democracy


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Cartoon: The many faces of President Yahya Jammeh

The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is widely known as an unpredictable political figure, and true to his reputation, the Gambian leader last week dropped a bombshell, which left Gambians dumbfounded. Only a week after making a shock concession after a defeat by Adama Barrow in the presidential poll, Jammeh who has been in office for 22 years has declared that he will launch a legal challenge to contest his defeat. Last week Jammeh congratulated Barrow on his “clear victory”, and pledged to oversee a smooth transition. The concession was widely applauded and hailed as a monumental step, which could bode well for democracy, and inspire other African leaders to respect the wishes of the electorate. Jammeh’s about-turn has been widely condemned, seen as an attempt to subvert the will of Gambian citizens and to cling on to power.

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh. Photo: Reuters
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Wither Gambian democracy as Jammeh rescinds on poll defeat concession

Yahya Jammeh is an unpredictable character, and true to his reputation, the Gambian leader last week dropped a bombshell, which left Gambians and fellow Africans dumbfounded. Just over a week after making a shock concession after a convincing defeat by coalition leader Adama Barrow in the country’s presidential polls, Jammeh ordered fresh elections and declared that he will launch a legal challenge to contest his defeat. Many Africans on social media have condemned Jammeh’s about-turn, and the African Union (AU) and Ecowas amongst others have issued cautionary statements, criticizing Jammeh on the turn-about, urging the Gambian leader to respect the will of voters.

Cartoon: Damien Glez
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Cartoon: The Gambia’s Yahyah Jammeh angel or devil?

The Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has been in office for the past 22 years. Few people would have predicted a Jammeh loss in the presidential election, let alone the longstanding Gambian leader conceding defeat with a smile on his face, and pledging to oversee a smooth transition. Jammeh, widely viewed as autocratic leader congratulated the winner, property developer Adama Barrow, for a “clear victory”. President Jammeh’s concession is monumental against the backdrop of alleged human rights abuses, and many expected him to win by hook and crook, that failing to cling on to power. Jammeh’s concession and pledge to facilitate a smooth power transfer raises important questions. Is the Gambian leader an angel, whose actions could bode well for democracy, and inspire other African leaders to respect the wishes of the electorate? Or he will remain a villain in the eyes of many because of a record of human rights abuses during his 22 years in power?

Ilhan Omar, a candidate for State Representative for District 60B in Minnesota, gives an acceptance speech on election night, November 8, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 
Omar, a refugee from Somalia, is the first Somali-American Muslim woman to hold public office. Photo:  ANP/ AFP Stephen Maturen
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Breaking boundaries: Former refugee, Ilhan Omar elected first Somali-American legislator in the U.S.

Today we celebrate a remarkable story, the election of Ilhan Omar as the first Somali-American legislator in the U.S. The former refugee who fled the Somali Civil War and spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp will serve in the Minnesota House of Representatives. We celebrate Omar’s inspirational achievement, a story of determination, hard-work and hope.