By Madeleine Hillyer, International News Editor
After over a month of national turmoil and speculation, long standing president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down from power after his loss in the country’s elections this past December. On Friday, January 20, Mr. Jammeh agreed to step down from his seat as president and transfer power to election winner Adama Barrow.
This agreement comes after threats from Senegal and other countries in the region threatened military action if President Jammeh did not respect the results of his country’s election and agree to a peaceful transfer of power to the incoming president. Initially, it appeared as though Mr. Jammeh was not going to step down peacefully as Senegalese troops began to enter the country late on Thursday, January 19. As reported by the Associated Press, Senegalese military official Colonel Abdoul Ndiaye confirmed reports that some of his country’s troops had entered Gambian borders and were on their way to the nation’s capital to ensure Mr. Jammeh would step down from his position. Senegal surrounds the Gambia on all sides except for one which borders the Atlantic Ocean.
Immediately following the election in December, Mr. Jammeh initially accepted the results of the election but later recanted on this acceptance claiming the election results were fraudulent and demanded new elections. According to the New York Times, international leaders and organizations immediately called for Mr. Jammeh to accept the election results as they determined the elections to be legitimate, according to Reuters. ECOWAS, a regional organization for West African countries, gave the Mr. Jammeh until January 20 to step down without military intervention.
Mr. Jammeh repeatedly said he planned to stay in power citing that he believed the elections to be fraudulent. He maintained this claim until leader of the Gambian army, General Ousman Badjie withdrew is support from Mr. Jammeh and said the military would support the incoming president. Previously the general had said the army would remain under the command of President Jammeh. This revelation came after incoming President Barrow, was sworn in at a Gambian embassy in Senegal, as reported by the Associated Press.
Former US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, tweeted on January 20, “If Jammeh doesn’t change his mind (again), the seating of President Barrow testifies to what the world can get done when it is not divided,” showing the sentiment of many in the international community which contains both hope and apprehension about a peaceful transfer of power in the Gambia. However, many of these concerns can be relieved by reports from the Guardian that former Gambian President Jammeh has plans to leave the country within the week.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.
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