BANJUL – The President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has lost the December 1, 2016 Gambia election to the opposition leader Adama Barrow. While he conceded defeat initially, he has now refused to hand over the reins of the country to the new President-elect and demands the election to be rerun.

Gambia, officially the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, is a nation in West Africa, mostly surrounded by Senegal with a short strip of its coastline on the Atlantic Ocean at its western end.  It is the smallest nation in mainland Africa.

Outgoing President Yahya Jammeh has ruled Gambia for nearly two decades after grabbing power in a bloodless coup in 1994. His time in office has been littered with accusations of corruption and human rights abuses. He rejects the election verdict and resist to a peaceful transfer of power. Many African countries and western nations strongly condemn his rejection of election verdict.

Neighboring countries are persuading Jammeh to control the situation and enable peaceful transfer of force. Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, deployed troops to Gambia after Jammeh said he would not admit the results of December’s election. The UN Security Council has called on Jammeh to “fully respect” the election outcomes and ensure Barrow’s safety.

Recently, Gambia’s army chief has reaffirmed his allegiance to President Yahya Jammeh.  A crackdown in recent days by security agents has also shut two radio stations, while a group of traders selling T-shirts featuring Barrow’s image were briefly held up.

The head of Gambia’s electoral commission has taken flight to neighbouring Senegal fearing for his safety, meaning he is unlikely to appear in any of the three court cases now lodged against him in the Supreme Court by Jammeh alleging irregularities in election process.

Jammeh said: “We are ready to defend this country against any aggression” pointing towards action by ECOWAS.

The election was hailed internationally as free and fair, but Jammeh has cited a recent issued in the days after the election as evidence of manipulation by the Independent Election Commission.

The tiny West African state has not experienced a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965 and a situation of civil war and killing loom over the future of Gambia in coming days.

Abhishek Nisal, Correspondent (Africa)

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