‘He must go, or a rebel be’
“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