‘He must go, or a rebel be’

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

“IF OUT­GO­ING Pres­i­dent Yahya Jam­meh re­fuses to step down he will be con­sid­ered a rebel and you know what that means,” Samba Mbal­low, po­lit­i­cal coun­sel­lor at The Gambia Em­bassy in Pre­to­ria said yes­ter­day.

A po­lit­i­cal cri­sis, and pos­si­ble mil­i­tary con­fronta­tion, is brew­ing and threat­en­ing the fu­ture of The Gambia fol­low­ing Jam­meh’s re­fusal to con­cede de­feat to Adama Bar­row, the leader of the United Demo­cratic Party (UDP), who won more than 45 per­cent of the vote in the De­cem­ber 1 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

“How can you have an abor­tion af­ter there has al­ready been a healthy de­liv­ery and birth?” Mbal­low asked, re­fer­ring to the elec­tion re­sults, deemed free and fair by the coun­try’s In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion (IEC), which pro­claimed Bar­row new leader of The Gambia.

“We are ex­tremely wor­ried about the fu­ture of the coun­try and what will hap­pen. The whole sit­u­a­tion is ex­tremely dis­turb­ing,” he said.

“Alieu Mo­mar Njai, the IEC chief who an­nounced Bar­row’s vic­tory, has fled to Sene­gal and has ap­plied for po­lit­i­cal asy­lum be­cause he is afraid for his life – such is the fear on the ground,” said Mbal­low.

Last month Gam­bian se­cu­rity forces seized con­trol of the IEC com­mis­sion head­quar­ters, where the orig­i­nal poll records are held, and told all the staff, in­clud­ing Njai, to leave.

Un­ver­i­fied me­dia re­ports also claim navy lieu­tenant Fara Jobe has jumped ship and fled the coun­try while oth­ers al­lege a plot to as­sas­si­nate op­po­si­tion leaders.

A more se­ri­ous devel­op­ment has been Gambia’s army chief Ous­man Badije promis­ing to sup­port Jam­meh af­ter orig­i­nally pledg­ing al­le­giance to Bar­row shortly af­ter the elec­tions.

“Badije’s about-face is be­cause as a mil­i­tary man he re­ceives eco­nomic sup­port and power from the gov­ern­ment. How­ever, I don’t be­lieve the ma­jor­ity of the Gam­bian mil­i­tary will back Badije be­cause they re­spect the will of the Gam­bian peo­ple,” said Mbal­low. – Reuters

Yahya Jam­meh

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