Jammeh’s Spy Chief Charged With Murder

Head of the Gambian National Intelligence Agency and the chief spy, under exiled Yahya Jammeh was on Thursday charged before a Banjul court for the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention in 2016.

Yankuba Badjie and the Director of Operations, Sheikh Jeng, along with eight other officers were charged.

The charges were part of attempts by President Adama Barrow to re-establish democracy in the small West African nation.

Barrow had released dozens of opposition activists from prison since he took office on Jan. 19, replacing Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the Islamic republic for the last 22 years with an iron fist.

Jammeh caused weeks of political impasse by refusing to accept the result of the December presidential election before going into exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Badjie took over at the intelligence agency in 2013, with Jeng as his deputy.

During their tenure, the intelligence agency carried out kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, torture, killings and rape, according to international human rights activists.

Dogara Commends Buhari, ECOWAS Leaders Over Gambia

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara has commended President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the Economic Community of West African States for the role they played in averting major political crisis in the Gambia.
In a statement issued on Sunday, by his Special Adviser on Media & Public Affairs, Mr. Turaki Hassan,  Dogara, said President  Buhari and his colleagues have averted a major political crisis that could have engulfed not only the Gambia but the entire West African sub region.
The speaker said that the leaders masterfully deployed diplomacy backed with potential military action to compell former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh to relinquish power to President Adama Barrow.
 “The leaders have demonstrated their readiness and strong resolve to defend democracy on the continent.”
“This would send strong signal to the world that democracy has come to stay in Africa. There is no room any longer for tyrants and dictators in the continent”, he said.
The  speaker maintained that inspite of any misgivings about democracy and it’s impact on the lives of the people, it still remains the best form of government and that “The will of the people and the consent of the governed  remains the only  basis of any government.”
Dogara said that the task ahead of African leaders is to fashion ways of making the system better  to deliver the greatest good to the greater number of people in order to enthrone good government, defeat poverty, engender patriotism and trust in the democratic system of government.

Jammeh Leaves Banjul Today into Exile

Gambia’s former president, Yahya Jammeh will now leave Banjul on Saturday with President Alpha Conde of Guinea, to begin a new life in exile.

This followed Friday’s final peace move by Conde and Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.

The two West African leaders travelled to Banjul to persuade the long ruling Jammeh to leave peacefully before West African forces pounced on him.

In a statement issued on state TV Friday night, Jammeh announced that he was stepping down, a superfluous announcement as he was already no more the leader, having been denied recognition by the world.

All indications are that Jammeh will be going into exile in Guinea.

A senior adviser to new President Adama Barrow said talks to finalise the exile deal were holding up his exit.

“I can assure you that he has agreed to leave,” Mai Ahmad Fatty, Barrow’s special advisor, told Reuters in Senegal’s capital Dakar. He could not say where Jammeh would go into exile.

President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow had earlier confirmed Yahya Jammeh’s stepping down.

Barrow, on his twitter handle on Friday, @adama_barrow said: “I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down.

“He is scheduled to depart Gambia today. #NewGambia.”

Barrow on Thursday took the oath of office as Gambia’s new president.

He was sworn-in about 5p.m. Senegalese time at the Gambian High Commission in Dakar, Senegal.

Barrow succeeded Yahya Jammeh, who lost in the Dec. 1 presidential election and refused to vacate office when his term expired midnight on Thursday.

Gambia’s Chief of Defence, Ousman Badjie, on Friday pledged loyalty to President Barrow.

“West African troops that crossed from neighbouring Senegal into Gambia to help unseat Jammeh would be welcomed “with a cup of tea,’’ said Badjie.

ECOWAS armies halted Operation Restore Democracy aimed at installing the country’s new president, Adama Barrow, on Thursday so regional leaders could make one last attempt to convince long-time ruler Yahya Jammeh to step aside.

In Dakar, the Nigerian force Commander, Operation Restore Democracy, Air Commodore Tajudeen Yusuf, said the ECOWAS forces will not let down their guard, inspite of negotiations for the former Gambian president, Alhaji Yahaya Jammeh to leave office.

He said the troops are awaiting briefing by the political leaders.

Yusuf made the statement while briefing newsmen in Dakar, on Friday.

“Even if he quits we are not letting down our guard, our mandate is to restore peace in Gambia.

“We have been on standby, and the troops are still on a very high alert, depending on the outcome of political negotiations.

“We are not letting down our guard; our mandate is to restore democracy in Gambia,’’ Yusuf said.

Yusuf added that the mandate given to them was to restore peace and nothing else.

He promised to carry out his responsibilities professionally while waiting for further directive from the political masters.

Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, initially conceded defeat to Barrow following a Dec. 1 election before back-tracking, saying the vote was flawed.

NAN

Gambia’s Jammeh Finally Steps Down

Defeated leader of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has finally agreed to step down a day after President-elect, Adama Barrow was sworn in as the President of the tiny West African country.

Mr. Jammeh who dissolved his cabinet on Thursday after Barrow’s inauguration, has also agreed to depart the tiny West African country.

Jammeh’s decision to stand down from the number one position in the country was announced on micro blogging site, Twitter on Friday by the new President of The Gambia, Adama Barrow.

“I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today. #NewGambia“, Barrow tweeted.

Meanwhile, Mr. Barrow was sworn in on Thursday, days after seeking shelter in Dakar with incumbent Yahya Jammeh still refusing to step down after losing the December 2016 Presidential election.

The new President of The Gambia took the oath of office in the country’s embassy in Senegal on Thursday, January 19.

As at the time of filing this report, Yahya Jammeh was yet to make a statement as regards Barrow’s announcement.

Gambia’s Jammeh Insists He Won’t Hand Over Power

President Yahya Jammeh on Thursday in Banjul reiterated his stand that he would not step down as Gambian leader when his mandate ends on Wednesday.

The information ministry said in a statement read on national television that Jammeh was planning to remain in office until the Supreme Court decides on a petition he filed.

Jammeh is challenging the result of the Dec. 1 presidential election he lost to Adama Barrow.

Barrow, a former real estate agent who was little known before he announced his candidacy, meanwhile has also reiterated he is planning to take office on Jan. 19, as scheduled.

Earlier this week, Gambia’s dysfunctional Supreme Court adjourned hearing Jammeh’s petition to Monday, since only one of a required minimum of five judges were present.

Experts however believe it will be highly unlikely that four additional judges will be present on Monday.

This is because the Supreme Court has not been operational since Jammeh fired several of the court’s judges in mid-2016.

All other eligible Court of Appeal judges left the country after the December election.

Observers fear that delays to the planned hand-over of power could lead to violence as Gambia has been in a political lockdown since Jammeh refused to accept the result.

Meanwhile, some West African leaders, including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, are expected to arrive in Gambia to convince Jammeh to respect the constitution and hand over the presidency.

NAN

Gambian Electoral Commission Chairman Flees Country

The Chairman of the Gambian Electoral Commission has fled the country following threats to his life, his nephew said on Tuesday.

Alieu Momar Njai had declared Adama Barrow the winner of the Dec. 1 presidential election, but President Yahya Jammeh has refused to relinquish power, challenging the election results in court.

Modou Njai told journalists that his uncle had left the country because of the threats.

“He was not willing to leave but the family had to put pressure on him.

“I understand that he is currently outside Gambia,’’ he said.

Security forces had earlier occupied the office of the electoral commission and denied staff access for weeks, but have since left the premises.

Mr. Barrow said on Monday that he would take power on Jan. 19 as mandated by the constitution, in spite of Mr. Jammeh’s court challenge.

After over two decades in power, Mr. Jammeh, 51, lost the election to Mr. Barrow, a former real estate agent who was little known even in Gambia before he announced his candidacy.

Gambia Authorities Shut Independent Radio Station

Popular independent Gambian radio station Teranga FM was Sunday ordered to cease operations by national security agents for unspecified reasons, a security source and staff member said.

The station, which translates news from Gambian papers into local languages, has previously been silenced and in 2015 its manager was slapped with sedition and “publication of false news” charges for privately sharing a provocative photo of President Yahya Jammeh.

“Four National Intelligence Agency operatives and one police officer in uniform came to the radio station this afternoon (Sunday) around 2:30 pm and told us to stop broadcasting,” a staff member told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“They said they have been ordered by the director general of NIA, Yankuba Badjie, to tell us to stop broadcasting with immediate effect. We asked them the reason for their action, but they said they are only acting on executive orders and do not know the reason why the radio should stop broadcasting,” he added.

A security source said no one had been arrested but could not say why the radio station was ordered off the air.

“We only asked them to stop broadcasting and they cooperated with us. They have stopped broadcasting since in the afternoon,” the source told AFP.

The radio station was not broadcasting Sunday evening, according to an AFP correspondent.

Station manager Alagie Ceesay was arrested by the country’s secret police in July 2015 on charges of sedition and “publication of false news” relating to allegations that he distributed images by mobile phone of a gun pointed at a picture of Jammeh.

Ceesay escaped from hospital where he was being treated in mid-April last year while on trial for sedition.

Jammeh, who has ruled the small west African country with an iron fist since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994, lost December’s presidential election but has rejected the results and filed a court challenge.

He is regularly accused of rights abuses and repression of the media.

The Gambia ranked 145 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2016 World Press Freedom Index, pointing to “a climate of terror around anything remotely to do with journalism”.

ECOWAS Leaders Have Declared War On Us – Jammeh

President Yahya Jammeh says the West African community’s decision to send troops into The Gambia to force him to accept defeat in last month’s presidential election, is “a declaration of war”.
Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS deployed troops to The Gambia on Thursday after Jammeh said he would not accept the results of December’s election, in which he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow.
In a New Year’s message broadcast on Saturday, Jammeh said the “blatant and one-sided” approach of ECOWAS, “disqualified it from providing mediation services”.
“Let me make very clear, we are ready to defend this country against any aggression,” Jammeh said, adding that if ECOWAS did not back down “the impasse will continue with the risk of escalation into a military confrontation”.
He added, “What we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow the Gambians to elect who they want to be their president in a free and fair election.”

After more than two decades in power, Jammeh, 51, lost a December 1 election to Barrow, a former real-estate agent.
After initially accepting the result, Jammeh later rejected it, alleging irregularities, and filed a petition to the Supreme Court which is due to be reviewed on January 10.
Barrow has insisted he will take office nine days later, as planned, with ECOWAS leaders set to attend the ceremony.
Earlier this month ECOWAS said it would stage a military intervention, led by neighbouring Senegal, if Jammeh failed to step down and set a deadline of January 19, the day of Barrow’s planned inauguration.
The UN Security Council has called on Jammeh to “fully respect” the election results and ensure Barrow’s safety.
The electoral commission said Barrow obtained 222,708 votes (43.3 percent) compared with Jammeh’s 208,487 (39.6 percent).
Jammeh has questioned the validity of the count after the electoral commission changed some results, even though it insists the outcome was not affected.

Buhari Sets Up Gambia Mediation Team

President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a Mediation Support Team to assist him in resolving the political impasse in Gambia.
The MST, headed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, will work with the team of the co-mediator, President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana.
Buhari and Mahama were mandated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to resolve the Gambian logjam.
Their mediation was one of the outcomes of the just-concluded ECOWAS Summit held on December 17, 2016 in Abuja.
The summit also listed the terms of reference to include ensuring the safety of the President-elect, Adama Barrow, the political leaders and the entire population; upholding the result of the Presidential election held on December 1, 2016 and ensuring that the President-elect is sworn into office on January 19, 2017, in conformity with the constitution of the country.
The Onyeama MST has begun immediate consultations with leaders in the sub-region as well as with international partners, Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media said today.
The main task of the Mediation Support Team is to undertake the first phase of the preparatory and support work that would lead to a high level meeting of the mediator, President Buhari, and the stakeholders.
“Buhari remains optimistic that a peaceful resolution of the problem, in line with the laws and the constitution of The Gambia, is possible before the January 19, 2017 inauguration date of the new president”, Shehu said.

The Yahya Jammeh Problem, By Reuben Abati

When President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia conceded defeat after the December 1, Presidential elections in that West African country of 1.9 million people, the gesture was widely hailed and described as an indication of great hope for democracy in Africa and particularly for The Gambia, which Jammeh had ruled with an iron fist for 22 years. That election was also perhaps the most important political development in The Gambia in 52 years – the first change of government through democratic elections. The winner of the Presidential election, Adama Barrow, was the product of a coalition of opposition parties who provided the platform for the people’s yearning for change. Adama Barrow (the British press should please stop referring to him condescendingly as a former Argos’ security guard!), became the symbol of the people’s hopes, and of freedom from Jammeh’s tyrannical rule that was benchmarked by its brutality, love of witchcraft and human rights abuses. Jammeh’s concession made it seem as if all his past sins would be forgiven.

But on December 9, he made a volte-face going on state television to say he could no longer accept the results of the election and that he had decided to annul the results. It is alleged that Jammeh may have resorted to this because of an alleged missing 365, 000 votes and the adjustment of the final results by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which showed that Adama Barrow had won with less than 20, 000 votes, hence Jammeh cited “unacceptable errors” which had come to light. This, if of any consequence at all, seems contrived.

If Jammeh as candidate in the election has any grouse, the appropriate place to seek redress is in court, and the Gambian Constitution provides for a 10-day window within which to file a petition. That 10-day period of grace expires today. By annulling the election single-handedly without recourse to the courts (the promise to do so by his party, the APRC, is an after-thought), Jammeh is guilty of an assault on the sovereignty of the Gambian people.  His conduct is objectionable and should be considered an act of high treason. Jammeh suffers from the delusion that his love of power and personal ambition is more important than the stability and progress of his country. The people’s will as confidently expressed on December 1 is supreme. Jammeh should be made to realize that he is just another citizen and that The Gambia is not his personal estate.

The African Union, ECOWAS and the UN Security Council as well as the international community in general have condemned the infamy that Jammeh is seeking to foist on his people. But the AU and ECOWAS should take the lead in coming to the rescue of The Gambian people. The long-term objective, in case Yahya Jammeh does not relent, is to invoke the Constitutive Acts and Principles of both bodies on democratic transition and thus “criminalize” any further attempt by Jammeh to violate the democratic process. We appreciate the fact that ECOWAS leaders: chairperson Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and the Presidents of Nigeria (Muhammadu Buhari), Sierra Leone (Ernest Bai Koroma), Ghana (John Dramani Mahama) and Guinea (Alpha Conde) are in fact meeting with President Jammeh today in Banjul. They will also meet with opposition coalition leaders. The primary task of that team should be to bring all parties concerned to the negotiating table, insist on the supremacy of the people’s will and advise Yahya Jammeh to obey the rule of law.

It is possible that he would refuse to listen. Before now, this Gambian anti-hero has shown a capacity to defy the international community. He once turned himself into a herbal doctor and claimed he had found a cure for HIV/AIDS. In 2013, he pulled his country out of the Commonwealth. He is also opposed to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ironically, the current chief prosecutor of the ICC is a Gambian, Fatou Bensouda. Yahya Jammeh is also an incurable megalomaniac, given his love of titles: H.E. Sheikh Prof. Dr. Alhaji President Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa. On many occasions, he wanted to be Chairman of the ECOWAS, but his colleague-Presidents always turned him down in favour of much junior Presidents who met him in office. For a while he shunned many international engagements, sending his Vice President instead. To be fair to him though, he is not as stupid as he is made to appear internationally and he has probably realized that the game is up. But could Yahya Jammeh be playing a game, to negotiate, to gain amnesty?

His relapse out of that moment of lucidity that saw him conceding defeat on December 2 may well have been caused not by his claim of “unacceptable errors”, but fear. The Gambian situation may end up providing special lessons in how triumphant opposition parties should manage victory in order not to provoke a succession crisis. Dictators in general are afraid of what will happen to them when they are no longer in power and hence, many of them hang on to office until they die or they are disgraced out. While the antidote to this is good governance, it is also pragmatic to situate certain responses within the context of post-election realities.

In The Gambia, the post-election situation has been poorly managed. Jammeh and Barrow have met only once since the election was won and lost. They are practically not on speaking terms. The opposition, apparently due to lack of knowledge and tact, has also been busy threatening to deal with Jammeh as soon as he hands over power. Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, who led the victorious coalition has been busy taunting Jammeh. She is a perfect illustration of how much damage reckless windbaggery can do to opposition politics.

Madame Fatoumata says Jammeh will be prosecuted.  Gambia will rejoin the International Criminal Court and Jammeh will be sent to The Hague for trial. Jammeh says he’d like to retire to his farm in his native Kanilai, Madame says he will not be allowed to do so, because he has “bunkers and treasure” there and enough weapons to start an insurrection. He won’t even be allowed to go abroad. “He can’t leave. If he leaves, he’s going to escape us”, she says. And she adds: “we don’t trust him. The longer we leave him, the more possibilities he has to leave the country to escape the country and even do an insurgency…Senegal is very alert. Nobody trusts him…” She further referred to Jammeh’s wife as a “gold-digger” who should be put on trial and jailed. It is precisely this kind of reckless post-election rhetoric that threatens peaceful ruling-party-to-opposition-transition in Africa. Fatoumata Jallow-Tambalang’s tactlessness has to be managed. She and Samsudeen Sarr should shut up, at least for now!

Yahya Jammeh’s response has just been as vengeful. He quickly promoted loyal officers in the military and got the military hierarchy to recant. He also sent soldiers onto the streets of Banjul and Serekunda and other parts of the country to subdue an already frightened populace. He had admitted the result of the Presidential election as the “will of Allah”, but now he is relying on his own will to protect and preserve himself. The early exposure of the mind of the opposition has driven Jammeh back into the trap of tyranny and unless the situation is well managed, we may have a serious crisis in The Gambia with a well-resourced dictator turned rebel. What is playing out in The Gambia right now is a two-way politics of vengeance, which leaves both the people and the governance process stranded. Getting the country out of that logjam should be the main remit of the ECOWAS mission.

The ECOWAS leaders visiting Banjul must engage The Gambian military hierarchy. Jammeh is in the process of using them to carry out another coup. His first coup was against Dawda Jawara, 22 years ago, the current effort is designed as a coup against the people and the opposition. And even if he does not get away with it, he is determined to plant enough problems that would make The Gambia impossible to govern after his exit. Right now, The Gambian military has lost its mind. Chief of Defence Staff General Ousman Badjie endorsed the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election and pledged loyalty to the people and the elected in-coming government, but after the bribery of military promotions, the same CDS started insisting on another election. A divided, psychopathic military is a serious problem to any country. We saw that in Guinea-Bissau and Mali. The ECOWAS team must make it clear to The Gambian military leaders that there will be no regional backing for any act of lunacy.

ECOWAS has its own problems. Oftentimes, ECOWAS leaders succumb to unnecessary compromises. They should not return from The Gambia with any unholy compromise. Yahya Jammeh lost the election on December 1. He boasted before then that any election in The Gambia is “rig-proof” and “fraud-proof”. In four previous elections, he won with a landslide. Now, all of a sudden, elections conducted under him are no longer “rig-proof”. He should pack out of the Presidential Villa and allow The Gambia to move on without him. He is the latest victim of coalition opposition politics in Africa. His defeat should send a clear message to the other sit-tight, royalist leaders across the continent. The long-term solution to the Yahya Jammeh problem should be the introduction of a Constitutional term limit for The Gambian Presidency to prevent Jammeh from ruling as he once claimed for “one billion years!”

Above all, Yahya Jammeh is a spoilsport. He jumped out of his moment of lucidity just when we were celebrating the good news from Ghana. John Mahama is Ghana’s first one-term democratically elected President since 1992, but he has been gallant in defeat and most gracious. There is no chance he will behave like Jammeh. He is educated. He has a good head. He is a thinker and a writer. He certainly has a brighter future ahead of him.

Gambian President Rejects Election Result One Week After Conceding

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has said that he rejects the outcome of last week’s election that he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow, only days after he conceded defeat to him in a public address.

The fresh announcement he made on state television on Friday throws the future of the West African country into doubt after the unexpected election results ended Jammeh’s 22-year rule.

Jammeh had conceded defeat on state TV last week, prompting wild celebrations over the ending of a government that human-rights groups accused of detaining, torturing and killing opponents.

“After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election. I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process,” Jammeh said, changing his position on the election results.

“I recommend fresh and transparent elections which will be officiated by a god-fearing and independent electoral commission,” he said.

Jammeh’s announcement presents an unexpected and severe challenge to the incoming Barrow administration, which was already grappling with how to take the reins of power and deal with the army that for two decades was loyal to the president.

Latest official figures gave Barrow 43.29 percent of the votes in the presidential election, while Jammeh took 39.64 percent. The turnout was at 59 percent.

Soldiers were seen placing sandbags in strategic locations across the capital Banjul on Friday, a development that triggered widespread unease among the already-spooked population, who had been panic-buying food before the vote due to fear of unrest.

Witnesses told the Reuters news agency that Banjul was quiet overnight, and that there was particular nervousness about the president’s statement that he would deal harshly with any troublemakers who took to the streets.

Opposition spokeswoman Isatou Touray criticised on social media a “violation of democracy” and called for people to “remain calm, lucid, vigilant and not retreat.”

The US state department said in a statement that Jammeh’s rejection of the results was an egregious attempt to undermine a credible election and remain illegitimately in power.

Senegal’s Foreign Minister, Mankeur Ndiaye, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and “solemnly” warned Jammeh not to harm Senegal’s interests or its citizens in Gambia.

Senegal, which has Gambia’s only land border and entirely surrounds the small riverside country, is a non-permanent member of the Security Council. Its army intervened in Gambia in 1981 during a coup.