Gambia

Cartoon: The Gambia- Dawn of a new era
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Politics and Society Cartoon: The Gambia- Dawn of a new era

Last week, Yahya Jammeh boarded a private jet leaving The Gambia after 22 years at the helm of the small West African country. Jammeh’s departure came after protracted negotiations and a swift military intervention led by the regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). His departure has been widely applauded and hailed as a monumental step, which could bode well for democracy and renewal in The Gambia. President Adama Barrow is expected in the country today, and there’s hope that President Barrow’s arrival will usher in a new beginning in a country which has had only two leaders since its independence attained in 1965.

Cartoon: Uncertainty shrouds The Gambia’s impending presidential inauguration
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Politics and Society Cartoon: Uncertainty shrouds The Gambia’s impending presidential inauguration

In a few days U.S. President Barack Obama will leave office paving way for President-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated on Friday, 20 January 2017. Ghana recently witnessed a smooth transfer of power with the inauguration of President Nana Akufo-Addo. In The Gambia, things are not so quite clear, President Yahya Jammeh who lost last year’s election is supposed to leave office paving way for the victor, President-elect Adama Barrow. The inauguration is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 19 January 2017 when Jammeh’s term officially ends. The country is on tenterhooks as President Jammeh remains resolute that he will challenge the election result, despite having initially accepted defeat, and pledging to oversee a smooth transfer of power.

Wither Gambian democracy as Jammeh rescinds on poll defeat concession
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Politics and Society 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: The Gambia’s Yahyah Jammeh angel or devil?
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Politics and Society 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?