The Gambia and its 21st Century Glorious Revolution

It is exactly one week since Adama Barrow made his triumphant entry into Gambia in a revolution that can be likened to the 1688 Glorious Revolution in England. Jubilant crowds of Gambians came out to welcome their newly elected President and messages came pouring in from the national and international community.

Barrow’s entry into The Gambia follows Jammeh’s exit which was largely orchestrated by member states of the Economic Community of West Africa States-ECOWAS. This is a major victory for the regional block that has been blamed for not being capable of managing previous conflicts like the Ivorian and Malian cases which has allowed external powers, who do not have a mastery of the local realities, to impose foreign solutions.

This Glorious Revolution is similar to that which took place in England in 1688. In that year, long serving monarch, James II was ousted by his own daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William of Orange in a revolution that passed on without the usual bloody episodes that marked the era. Likewise, Jammeh who had previously refused to accept defeat finally left power in favour of the duly elected President, Adama Barrow in a drama that saw no gunshots.

The Gambian transition is one of the rare conflicts of modern times that was carefully managed without the assistance of the United Nations or its Blue Helmets on the ground. It also pinpoints the fact that Africans can better managed their grievances and challenges since it better understands them and must not necessary invite Western bodies and countries to intervene. Hence, African solutions for African problems. African institutions should follow the example of ECOWAS and not just remain ceremonial bodies, but active, especially in line with democracy. Moreover, like the new UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres said, conflicts should be tackled at the onset and not allowed to develop into chaos.

Presidential elections were conducted on December 1 2016 and opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow defeated long-term serving Yahya Jammeh who ceased power in a coup in 1994 at the age of 29. Jammeh, in a televised address to the nation, congratulated Barrow and boastfully said The Gambia has organized the best elections in the world. In a dramatic twist, he later on challenged the election results and vowed not to leave power until reruns are conducted. Forced by the regional body ECOWAS, Jammeh finally left the throne and flew out of the country.

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