Gambians celebrated the first anniversary of the electoral defeat of long-serving leader Yahya Jammeh on Saturday.
The main event saw President Adama Barrow addressing citizens about the victory of 2 December 2016 and warning that there was more work to be done to better the lives of the people.
Jammeh until 2016 had been president of the Gambia for 22 years since he took power as a 29-year-old lieutenant in a bloodless coup. He kicked out the country’s first president, Dawda Jawara.
Despite coming in as a 29-year-old he was to leave as a 51-year-old democrat who was known more for his autocratic ways and widely believed to be a person who abused rights of the media and of opponents.
Jammeh openly conceded his loss in a televised address a day after the elections (2 December 2016). He addressed the nation and was shown congratulating Barrow in a phone call.
Things will, however, take a turn as he rejected the results a week later with the excuse that they were manipulated.
“I want to make it very clear, in the same way I accept the results on the basis that the IEC is independent, I will not accept the result. I reject the results,” Jammeh announced.
“I hereby annul the results and we will go back to the polls,” he added. He will go ahead to refuse the then ECOWAS leader’s visit to Banjul. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s plane was denied landing rights.
A back and forth ensued from widespread condemnation of his move, ECOWAS sent mediation teams led by Muhammadu Buhari, some Gambians began fleeing for fear of violence.
In the end, Barrow was flown by ECOWAS to Senegal where he took his first oath of office. ECOWAS prepared a force to oust Jammeh at the end of his mandate on 20 January 2017.
He eventually accepted to go into exile after last minute mediation by Presidents of Guinea and Mauritania. He is currently living in Equatorial Guinea. The last that was seen of him was whiles he was clearing a farm land.
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban