Ecowas Intervention And Democratization In West African Sub-Region (A Study Of Gambia 2016 General Election)

Abstract

Presidential elections were held in Gambia on 1 December, 2016. The incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, appeared confident of securing a fifth term in office. An army Lieutenant who became President of the Gambia after ceasing power in a bloodless coup d’état on 22 July 1994, President Jammeh was a quintessential African President-for-life. Behind a façade of regular presidential and parliamentary elections, President Jammeh maintained control of Gambia through the tried-and-tested techniques of authoritarianism. Intimidation of political opponents, harassment of journalists, pay-offs to loyalists, electoral fraud and gerrymandering, and the control of civil society by an overbearing security apparatus ensured Yahya Jammeh’s continued grip on power.

The 2016 election was supposed to be no different. Dissidents and opposition leaders were threatened, and at times imprisoned and tortured, and the State media actively campaigned for President Jammeh. This led observers to dismiss the possibility that the election would be free and fair. Citing these irregularities, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that it would not participate in observing the election, while the European Union was denied entry to the country, despite having had initial indications that it would be allowed to monitor the election. This left a small contingent of African Union (AU) observers as the only foreign actor overseeing the election.

Casting their votes using marbles instead of paper ballots, 8 Gambians delivered a stunning result. After twenty-two years in office, Yahya Jammeh was defeated by Adama Barrow, a real-estate agent, who succeeded in rallying the opposition parties around his candidacy. The final tally gave Barrow 227,708 votes to Jammeh’s 208,487, while a third-party candidate, Mamma Kandeh, received 89,768 votes.

Unexpectedly for a ruler whose eccentricities earned him the honorific of being dubbed West Africa’s Gaddafi, Yahya Jammeh conceded the election. One week later, however, in an equally unexpected volte-face, Yahya Jammeh announced his ‘total rejection’ of the results. Citing ‘serious and unacceptable abnormalities’, Yahya Jammeh annulled the elections and called for holding new elections under the supervision of an independent electoral commission. One explanation for Jammeh’s ostensibly erratic behavior is that he was blindsided by his electoral loss and gracefully conceded defeat as a tactical maneuver to buy precious time to find a solution to his predicament, and then decided to call for a revote in a bid to cling to power or to negotiate a safe exit from the country to avoid prosecution over allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

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APA

, N (2021). Ecowas Intervention And Democratization In West African Sub-Region (A Study Of Gambia 2016 General Election). Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/ecowas-intervention-and-democratization-in-west-african-sub-region-a-study-of-gambia-2016-general-election-1

MLA 8th

, NZEWIGBO "Ecowas Intervention And Democratization In West African Sub-Region (A Study Of Gambia 2016 General Election)" Afribary. Afribary, 10 Apr. 2021, https://afribary.com/works/ecowas-intervention-and-democratization-in-west-african-sub-region-a-study-of-gambia-2016-general-election-1. Accessed 19 Jul. 2024.

MLA7

, NZEWIGBO . "Ecowas Intervention And Democratization In West African Sub-Region (A Study Of Gambia 2016 General Election)". Afribary, Afribary, 10 Apr. 2021. Web. 19 Jul. 2024. < https://afribary.com/works/ecowas-intervention-and-democratization-in-west-african-sub-region-a-study-of-gambia-2016-general-election-1 >.

Chicago

, NZEWIGBO . "Ecowas Intervention And Democratization In West African Sub-Region (A Study Of Gambia 2016 General Election)" Afribary (2021). Accessed July 19, 2024. https://afribary.com/works/ecowas-intervention-and-democratization-in-west-african-sub-region-a-study-of-gambia-2016-general-election-1