Gambia’s president-elect, Adama Barrow, has hinted that he will swear himself in as substantive president when the tenure of outgoing Yahya Jammeh runs out in January.
The businessman, who ran on the ticket of an opposition coalition, won the Dec. 1 elections to topple Jammeh, who has been in power since 1994. Barrow told the BBC reporter who covered the elections that Jammeh’s tenure ends on Jan. 18 and he will declare himself president if Jammeh does not step down.
A day after the election, Jammeh called Barrow to congratulate him on the victory and gave a firm promise to hand over the reins and return to his village to farm. A week later, though, Jammeh announced on the public broadcast that he was not stepping down. According to him, the elections were fraught with irregularities that his team only became aware of later. He subsequently called for a recount.
Jammeh received local and international flack for his U-turn. The regional political bloc, the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) all condemned his refusal to relinquish power. The Gambia’s only landed neighbor, Senegal, also criticized his recalcitrance.
Back at home, the opposition parties have chided Jammeh, calling for him to step down immediately. Different groups in the country have joined in as media people, health workers, teachers, lawyers and other professional groups continue to call for him to respect the will of the Gambian electorate.
Security personnel on Tuesday took over the headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on the same day when African heads of state were meeting with Jammeh to get him to step down. That meeting, according to Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, ended in a stalemate.
That same evening, Jammeh’s party filed documents with the Supreme Court asking for the annulment of the Dec. 1 elections, citing, among other things, irregularities by the IEC and intimidation of its supporters. ￼