By Lindsey DeLorie, International News Writer
On December 2, the election results for Gambia’s presidency came out, showing that incumbent Yahya Jammeh will soon be leaving his post.
President Jammeh has reigned over the smallest country in Africa for 22 years now.
The international sphere acknowledges that many African elections are rigged or unreliable, so Jammeh’s initial calm acceptance of his defeat came as a large shock. The Jammeh administration has been known for its corruption and oppression.
Many critics of the government have at times been jailed or even killed.
Jammeh has been known for having very erratic and violent behavior such as claiming to know the cure to AIDS by using a banana and herbs, threatening to behead anyone suspected of being homosexual and arresting and prosecuting journalists who support his government’s opposition. Many human rights organizations have spoken out against Jammeh’s actions and presidency since he took office through a military coup in 1994. Jammeh initially stated that he would concede peacefully, however, in a recent turn of events on December 9, Jammeh has now stated that he rejects the defeat, calling for a new election.
Jammeh was defeated by a real estate company owner, Adam Barrow, who has no political experience. Many believe the people of Gambia voted for Barrow just in hopes that his victory would remove Jammeh from office. Barrow was able to gain a large amount of support from Gambians. The people rallied around Barrow, especially in the final days before the election. Hundreds of Gambians gathered for a peaceful protest in the capital city, Banjul, against what was considered an oppressive regime under Jammeh.
“It is the birth of a new Gambia where we can together, as people, raise our fists to the sky and say ‘never again shall we experience dictatorship”, said Sheriff Bojang Jr, a journalist who has been living in exile for a year now, according to the New York Times.
However, Jammeh’s announcement to reject the results of the election has been a complete shock to many Gambians and has already received condemnation from Senegal and the United States.
The State Department has called this a “reprehensible and unacceptable break of faith,” according to the New York Times. Mr. Barrow’s response is still pending, however, the people of Gambia have already voiced their reactions based on Jammeh’s unpredictability, with one student at the University of Gambia, Abdoulie Ceesay labeling the mood inside the country as “scary.”
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 10th print edition.
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