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  • President Barrow receives rousing welcome

    ens of thousands of Gambians of all ages yesterday lined the streets from Westfield to inside the Banjul International Airport in Yundum to welcome home President Adama Barrow. 

    The president arrived in a white aircraft with the Ecowas logo at about 5pm, and was received at the foot of the aircraft by the only appointed member of his new cabinet, Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang, diplomats and other senior government officials. 

    The president took off from Dakar, Senegal, where he was sworn in as the third president of The Gambia on 19 January 2017.

    Upon arrival at the airport, Mr Barrow said: “I am a happy man today.  I think the bad part is finished now.” He promised to put in place his cabinet and set to work in earnest.

    Muhammed Ibn Chambas, UN Special Representative West Africa and Sahel, said the arrival of President Barrow was historic.

    “What we are witnessing here today is truly historic. Gambians have turned out in large numbers to welcome their president, and to ensure the take off of the government of President Barrow.” Mr Chambas said the United Nations working with Ecowas and other partners will continue to support the process to establish the necessary security for the new president, the vice president and the government and to allow a smooth transition from the past administration to this new one.

    President Barrow led a coalition of eight opposition parties that defeated the former incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, in the 1st December election.

    Jammeh rejected the result after initially accepting it, causing a political impasse in the country that lasted for about one and half month, and nearly plunged the country into war.

    At the height of the political impasse, Barrow left for Mali, courtesy of Ecowas, then to Senegal where he was sworn into office at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar.

    Thanks to the success of last-ditch mediation efforts, led by the presidents of Guinea and Mauritania, Jammeh eventually left power and went into exile with his family in Equatorial Guinea.

    When Jammeh left, Gambians took to the streets to celebrate with music blaring from speakers and people dancing in the streets.

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  • Gambia's parliament extends defeated president's office by 3 months


    BANJUL (Reuters) - Gambia's National Assembly has passed a resolution to allow President Yahya Jammeh, who lost an election in December, to stay in office for three months from Wednesday when he was due to leave power.

    The decision announced on state television will raise tension with leaders of the West African bloc ECOWAS who have threatened sanctions or military force to make Jammeh hand over to opposition leader Adama Barrow who won the election.

    Jammeh on Tuesday declared a state of emergency, saying it was to prevent a power vacuum while the supreme court rules on his petition challenging the election result. The National Assembly resolution almost certainly gives the government authority to prevent Barrow's inauguration.

    Barrow, who is in Senegal, was examining the implications of the assembly's resolution and the state of emergency, given the constitutional requirement for a handover and the need to maintain peace, his spokesman Halifa Sallah told Reuters.

    Barrow could, in theory, be sworn in as president at the Gambian embassy in Senegal, which is technically on Gambian soil.

    Gambia is one of Africa's smallest countries and has had just two rulers since independence in 1965. Jammeh seized power in a coup in 1994 and his government has gained a reputation among ordinary Gambians and human rights activists for torturing and killing opponents.

    Few people expected him to lose the election and the result was greeted with joy by many in the country and by democracy advocates across the continent, particularly when Jammeh initially said he would accept the result and step down.

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  • No deal reached for Gambia impasse

    Banjul (Gambia) (AFP) - Liberia's president said Tuesday no deal has yet been reached by a heavyweight delegation for Yahya Jammeh to transition power to opposition leader Adama Barrow, who was declared the victor of a recent presidential election.

    A day of talks with Jammeh and Barrow yielded constructive conversations but no resolution.

    The situation was further complicated by Jammeh's political party filing a legal challenge to the result in the afternoon.

    "We come to help Gambians find their way through a transition. That's not something that can happen in one day. It's something that one has to work on," said Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, acting as the head of a delegation of four West African heads of state visiting the country.

    Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone's Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana's outgoing President John Mahama all flew in with Sirleaf in an attempt to find common ground between the two sides.

    The Liberian leader said Jammeh had "expressed some concerns" on the same day his party filed the petition with the country's Supreme Court.

    "The ECOWAS mission was here to meet with him to understand the status quo a bit better," Sirleaf added, referring to a West African regional bloc.

    The ECOWAS community would now consider the results of the visit on Saturday, she said.

    Nigeria's Buhari had said earlier the longtime ruler had been "receptive" to their pleas, but president-elect Barrow said the talks were in gridlock.

    "There has not been an agreement so far," said Barrow, who also met the delegation.

    The leader of the opposition described a "standoff" with the government. Referring to the court challenge filed by the ruling party, he said Jammeh "doesn't have the authority" to annul the result.

    The lack of a deal will come as a blow to the opposition, who had hoped Jammeh would leave power within a month under international pressure.

    That transition will be all the more complicated given the legal petition, seen by AFP, claimed the country's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had violated the law, that Barrow was not the elected president and the result was void.

    The ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) said it was not present when the IEC issued a recount on December 5, claimed there were irregularities in the process and alleged voter intimidation.

    - Sanctions threat? -

    A top ECOWAS official had said that if Jammeh and the delegation do not reach an agreement, West African states would "contemplate more draconian decisions", but the quartet would not elaborate on this Tuesday.

    Jammeh had surprised observers by initially conceding defeat in the poll but then reversed his stand last Friday, triggering an avalanche of international condemnation and a multitude of calls for him to cede power peacefully.

    His decision was triggered in part by a readjustment of the votes counted in the election was made by the IEC on Monday last week, reducing the number of ballots for all three candidates but ultimately confirming Barrow's victory.

    Earlier on Tuesday, police locked down the offices of the electoral commission, raising fresh fears Jammeh might not leave office without a fight.

    The electoral commission chairman, Alieu Momar Njie, told AFP that when he went to work riot police prevented him from entering the premises.

    Later Tuesday Njie maintained the results still stood, and questioned Jammeh's ability to bring a legal challenge.

    Jammeh in mid-2015 dismissed a string of Supreme Court judges after criticising the court's move to commute several death sentences.

    "The only recourse when you have any problems with the results of the elections, one has to appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court has been dormant since May 2015," Njie said.

    A group of the country's most influential lawyers has said there is "no legitimate legal mechanism available in The Gambia to hear and determine the election petition", as Jammeh would have to stuff the court with his own appointees.

    - Army loyalty -

    Earlier in the day, opposition coalition members had been more confident of a breakthrough.

    "Remember President Buhari is from the military. Jammeh is from the military. I think that will make a difference," said Hamat Bah, a senior coalition official.


    Up until now the president of the tiny country of fewer than two million people may have exasperated his regional peers but has never threatened peace in the area.

    The situation has dramatically shifted, however, since Jammeh's move to void the election.

    Gambian army chief Ousman Badjie also seemed to reverse a previous declaration of support for Barrow and arrived at delegation preparation talks wearing a badge that featured Jammeh's face on his uniform.

    Badjie said he supported the "commander in chief, President Yahya Jammeh" in brief comments to journalists.

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  • What next for The Gambia?

    Mr Jammeh's party says it will file a petition to the Supreme Court. However, the Supreme Court cannot make a decision as they do not have enough judges.

    Two were sacked by the president in June and legal experts say he can't appoint new judges for a case about himself.

    With no Supreme Court to rule on the dispute, the next question is how the army could get involved. And that is not clear.

    The head of the Gambian army, General Ousman Badjie, pledged his loyalty to President-elect Adama Barrow after the incumbent conceded.

    But since Mr Jammeh went back on his words, the army appears to have gravitated back towards him.

    Amid the possibility for instability, Gambia's neighbours are getting involved.

    Senegal, which surrounds The Gambia, called a UN Security Council meeting which condemned Mr Jammeh's U-turn.

    Senegalese fighter jets have been seen flying in the skies. It is not clear whether this is a coincidence or a warning to Mr Jammeh.

    Grey line

    According to the electoral commission's latest count, as a result of the vote on 1 December:

    • Adama Barrow won 222,708 votes (43.3%)
    • President Jammeh took 208,487 (39.6%)
    • A third-party candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 89,768 (17.1%)

    They were revised by the country's electoral commission on 5 December, when it emerged that the ballots for one area had been added incorrectly, swelling Mr Barrow's vote.

    The error, which also added votes to the other candidates, "has not changed the status quo" of the result, the commission said.

    However, it narrowed Mr Barrow's margin of victory from 9% to 4%.

    Mr Jammeh, who has ruled the Gambia for 22 years, originally conceded victory to Mr Barrow, who used to be a security guard in chain store Argos in London.

    He was even shown telephoning Mr Barrow saying "you are the elected president of Gambia and I wish you all the best".

    Last week a leading member of Mr Barrow's coalition told the UK's The Guardian newspaper that President Jammeh would be prosecuted for alleged crimes committed during his rule.

    In his U-turn rejecting the results, Mr Jammeh cited "serious and unacceptable abnormalities" in the electoral process, pointing to the errors mentioned by the electoral commission.

    Despite the errors, election commission head Alieu Momarr Njai told Reuters news agency that he stood by the "if it goes to court, we can prove every vote cast".

    "The election results were correct, nothing will change that," he said.

    President-elect Barrow said on Sunday that he feared for his safety.

    In his 22 years in power, Mr Jammeh acquired a reputation as a ruthless leader.

    Human rights group have accused his government of stifling the press and harassing opposition parties.

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  • General Masanneh Kinteh appointed as President Barrow’s military aide

    Lt. General Masanneh Kinteh has been appointed as President Adama Barrow’s close military aide with immediate effect.

    This appointment was announced yesterday by the Coalition Spokesperson, Halifa Sallah, at a press conference held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.

    General Kinteh will work closely with President Barrow to help him execute his duties firmly as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and security forces.

    The President is banking on his vast experience, as a veteran military officer and a former Chief of Defence Staff of the Gambia Armed Forces, and as someone who has knowledge of the Gambia Armed Forces.

    He was appointed deputy Chief of Mission at the Gambia Embassy in Havana, Cuba, in 2012.

    After over two decades in the military, Kinteh, a seasoned officer with a wealth of command experience, is deemed competent enough to serve as President Barrow’s close aide. 

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