Gambian President Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency early Tuesday and refused to hand power over to Adama Barrow, who was inaugurated in Senegal on Thursday.
State-run television explained the declaration as a way to prevent a power vacuum while the supreme court rules on Jammeh challenging the results of the election, even though Gambia’s top judge refused to rule on the petition.
West African leaders have given Jammeh one last opportunity to step down from power before turning to military force. According to BBC News, Jammeh has been given until noon today to step down before the military steps in. Unconfirmed reports suggest that troops from Senegal have already crossed the border in an attempt to secure cities and towns within Gambia, with the help of Gambian soldiers.
Barrow, who remains in Senegal, says he will not reenter the country until Jammeh is removed or has stepped down.
Many government officials have already stepped down, including Foreign Minister Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, as well as the mayor of Banjul, Gambia’s capital.
Some Gambians are even fleeing the country, fearing for their lives and safety. Awa Sanneh, 25, from the Gambian town of Birkama, said, “[W]e are scared. There are soldiers with guns all the time.” Sanneh was leaving with two children and 24 other family members.
This crisis is yet another attempt by President Jammeh to retain power. Being Libertarian previously reported on Jammeh’s attempt to influence the election by banning Internet usage and international telephone calls prior to election day last month.
Jammeh’s refusal to transition power to Barrow highlights the problems of the growing powers of the executive branches of authoritarian governments. Jammeh’s continued refusal to accept the results of a legitimate election undermines Gambian democracy. Jammeh has interfered with elections, rescinded rights, and silenced political dissenters. His refusal to give up power is just the icing on the cake.
Check back for updates on this developing story in the coming days.
Photo credit: Sylvain Cherkaoui / AP
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