Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang has denied speculations that defeated President Yahya Jammeh may renege on his promise to hand over to his successor. The minister has assured his countrymen and women and the international community that Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia for 22 years with iron hand, will hand over to President-elect Adama Barrow latest by the end of January.
“We are working on the transition now. They (Barrow’s coalition) will come and we will show them the ropes,” Bojang said in an interview on Monday. “It will be the latter part of January.”
Bojang also denied that Jammeh may have fled the country, saying the outgoing president will remain in the country after leaving office. The outgoing president is currently in his residency at State House and will meet Barrow next week, he added. Gambian law calls for a 60-day transition period.
Jammeh has not been seen in public since he shocked observers by accepting his surprise loss in the 1 December election, leading to rumours that he had fled Gambia.
In a related development, a court has freed prominent lawyer and opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and 18 other political prisoners on bail. They were released pending an appeal of their jail sentence for “unlawful assembly”. Darboe along with other senior members of the United Democratic Party were jailed for three years in July for taking part in a small protest near the capital Banjul. The court decision is interpreted by observers as a sign that the end of Jammeh’s era has effectively begun.
President-elect Barrow has promised to release all political prisoners and he should ensure this goes beyond opposition figures and includes everyone jailed simply for expressing their views.