In a saner clime, today should have been the day when Yahya Jammeh should hand over power to the newly and democratically elected Adama Barrow in the Gambia. But this is Africa; it seems that will not be happening as it ought to. This is Africa where political leaders do not respect election results, and the rule of law is thrown into the dustbin. This is Africa where presidents alter the constitution of their countries just to remain in power. Of course, in a saner clime like the United States of America, Barack Obama will be handing over to the President-elect, Donald Trump as the 45th president, after eight years of a legitimate two-term in office.
But Yahya Jammeh has vowed to remain in power despite losing a December 1 election to rival Adama Barrow. Earlier this week, he declared a state of emergency. Jammeh said on Tuesday the measure was necessary because of "the unprecedented and extraordinary amount of foreign interference" in a December 1 presidential vote, which he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow. He also mentioned external intervention in "the internal affairs of The Gambia and the needless intimidating atmosphere threatening the sovereignty, peace, security andstabilityof the country". This decision only suggests that Jammeh will stay in power beyond Thursday, when Adama Barrow was due to have been sworn in as president.
In an election where he initially conceded defeat, Jammeh is refusing to hand over power despite both regional and international pressure and a threat by other West African Nations of a possible Military intervention. Already, the Senegalese Military alongside their Nigerian counterpart are brazen up for a military showdown with Yahya Jammehs 2500 military contingent. Senegalese troops are already stationed around the Gambian border as reported by BBC. In addition, the Nigerians Air Force had also deployed 200 men and air assets comprising of fighter jets, helicopters to support the Senegalese troops.
At this point, a wise Yahya Jammeh should just embrace peace and peacefully handover power, which he has held onto for 22 years. The move to peacefully handover power is necessary at this point; haven witnessed key ministers in his government including the vice president resigning and fled the country. Also, foreigners have been leaving the country in drove, not knowing the direction todays transition would take. The Gambia is a small West African country, bounded by Senegal, with a narrow Atlantic coastline. It has a population of about 1.8million people. Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange, as well as the money sent home by Gambians living overseas. Most visitors are drawn to the resorts that occupy a stretch of the Atlantic coast.
Irrespective of how todays outcome would play out, it is definitely sure that the regime of a dictator, recalcitrant Yahya Jammeh is closer to an end. Presidential lawlessness in Africa must stop. Jammeh should learn from Laurent Gbagbo that refusing to leave power is not the way to go.