Like most African leaders, Yahya Jammeh has been in power for over 22 years in Gambia and, has, during his term in office imprisoned many political personalities and freedom fighters, killed many, and ruled his country as a monarch. It should be recalled that Gambia’s authoritarian President of 22 years, Yahya Jammeh, came to power in a coup in 1994. During his tyrannical rule, the people of Gambia were subjected to living in constant fear and panic as freedom of speech and protest were heavily suppressed and violated without keeping aside the disrespect of human rights and human dignity. Under the rule of President Jammeh, Gambia left the International Criminal Court, like South Africa and Burundi recently did, because he described the institution as being racial. He also pulled Gambia out of the Commonwealth in 2013. Last year he declared the country an Islamic Republic and even went ahead to say he would rule the country for a billion years if Allah permitted him. Fatoumata Jallow-Tambajang, the architect of the opposition coalition said “what he wants is just to isolate us and separate us more. He’s always been like that. He hid it more before. But now he’s a wounded lion and unfortunately he doesn’t have a body to bite”.
Even though Jammeh won with 72% of the vote in 2011, his popularity drastically dropped before the December 2016 presidential election because, during the election period, journalists and opposition leaders were being arrested, jailed, tortured, and killed. In addition to that, it is clear the country has greatly been affected by abject poverty. It is even estimated that 85% of Gambia’s 1.8 million are living below the poverty line with a youth unemployment rate of at least 38%. As a result of this negativism, more than 10,000 Gambians have left the country for greener pastures in Europe, all of which has contributed towards the failure of the government for the past 10 years, but this year things have gotten worse.
However, this year the opposition decided to kick out the dictator from the office of president by forming a coalition and they chose Adama Barrow as their candidate. Blowing whistles and clanging pots and pans before the election day, the country’s youth, desperate for jobs, largely literate, and armed with communication devices ran through the streets rallying for Barrow in Bakau near the capital singing “Jammeh must go, he’s a killer; he’s a nonsense guy.” After all of this movement and support, following the presidential election of December 1st, 2016, the election committee declared Adama Borrow as the winner of the election and incumbent President Yahya Jammeh accepted defeat on December 2 without any form of opposition, protest, and bloodshed. Truly, the aftermath of this election in Gambia shows the renaissance of a new history and progress for Gambia as the people of Gambia show confidence and trust towards the upcoming administration of Mr. Barrow. Many have described this turning point as a new age for Africa and that all African leaders should have the spirit to concede defeat during an election.
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