On 19 Jan 17, it was announced that President-elect of Gambia, Adama Barrow would be sworn-in, at the country’s embassy at Dakar, in neighboring Senegal. The incumbent President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down, after he lost the election to Adama Barrow, last month.
Will there be civil war in the West African state?
On 19 Jan 17, it was announced that President-elect of Gambia, Adama Barrow would be sworn-in, at the country's embassy at Dakar, in neighboring Senegal. The incumbent President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down, after he lost the election to Adama Barrow, last month. Yahya Jammeh says he wants the election result annulled because of errors in the election process.
Jammeh, seized power by coup in 1994, as a 29-year-old Army Lieutenant and has been President for 22 years. He had initially accepted Barrow's election victory but later refused to step down. West African countries led by Nigeria and Senegal have threatened to use force to enforce the election result, however so far, Yahya Jammeh remains adamant.
Gambia is a popular holiday destination amongst European holiday-makers. Thousands of tourists are now being evacuated from the West African state. Fearing the onset of violence more than 28,000 Gambians have also sought refuge in neighboring Senegal.
How are Neighbors Reacting?
ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) have mandated Senegal, which almost surrounds The Gambia, to spearhead a military intervention to implement the mandate. However, military force is only to be a last resort and that to with UN Security Council sanction. Nigeria has dispatched troops and aircraft to Senegal and also deployed at least one naval ship, off the coast of The Gambia. A draft UN Security Council resolution, empowering ECOWAS, is being circulated, in New York.
What are the Possible Outcomes?
There are three possible outcomes to The Gambia fiasco.
- Firstly, Jammeh could voluntarily relinquish his appointment and he could accept President Adama's offer to stay on in The Gambia, as an honored former head of state. Unlikely.
- Secondly, he could relinquish the appointment and accept asylum in another African country. Nigeria and Morocco could be possible destinations, as one of Jammeh's wives is Moroccan. Possible.
- Thirdly, Yahya Jammeh could continue to cling to power, resulting in an internationally sanctioned military intervention, by regional forces. Likely.
Yahya Jammeh has a reputation for being eccentric and ruthless. He also claims supernatural powers to cure, Aids and infertility amongst women. In the face of imminent conflict and bloodshed, it may be prudent to conduct a special forces operation, to take out the despot.