• The Gambia fashions itself as a kind of Islamic state

    11/Jan/2016 // 294 Viewers

     

    ITS arrival was less bloody, its ambitions less grand. But as 2015 drew to a close, and the world’s attention was fixed firmly on Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, the Gambia announced that it, too, was henceforth an Islamic state. 

    The president of the tiny west African nation, Yahya Jammeh, issued the proclamation, which came with no forewarning and seemingly on a whim, on December 11th, 2015. Mr Jammeh cited the wishes of the people (90% of Gambians are Muslim), and the need to distance the country from its “colonial legacy”. The Gambia now follows Mauritania as Africa’s second “Islamic Republic”, although the country’s secular constitution, ratified in 1996, remains unaltered. 

    On January 4th an executive order, leaked to the press, banned all female civil servants from leaving their hair uncovered during working hours. The national broadcaster has taken to referring to the Gambia as an “Islamic Republic” and the Supreme Islamic Council, a group of scholars, is to go around the country stirring up popular support for the decision. Legislation to enforce it will soon be introduced into parliament and the national flag will be changed to reflect the country’s new status, says the president.

    But key details are still lacking. It is not clear, for instance, whether Mr Jammeh intends to implement fully-fledged sharia (Islamic law), as he was rumoured to be planning in the early 2000s, or whether he plans to put the issue to a referendum. In his original declaration in December he assured non-Muslims that their rights would be protected, and that there would be no mandatory dress codes. Such promises already look thin in light of the January 4th order. 

    Mr Jammeh’s government already has one of the worst human-rights records on the continent. Gay people are persecuted: Mr Jammeh has publicly vowed to slit their throats. Dissidents are brutalised in inventive ways in torture chambers not far from The Gambia’s tourist beaches. On one occasion the security forces rounded up hundreds of villagers suspected of witchcraft after the president’s aunt grew sick. During interrogations, many of the female “witches” were raped, according to Human Rights Watch.

    Now that Mr Jammeh is cloaking his regime in Islam, “the non-Muslim community is beginning to get worried,” says Sidi Sanneh, a former Gambian diplomat and prominent dissident. 

    Mr Jammeh’s motives are difficult to discern. Some regard the announcement as mere grandstanding, in keeping with his habit of erratic policymaking and provocative public statements. In 2007, for example, he announced that he had found a herbal cure for AIDS. And in 2013 he pulled the Gambia out of the Commonwealth, saying it was a “neocolonial institution”.

    “The government doesn’t even have the know-how to make the country into an Islamic state,” says Imam Baba M. Leigh, a Muslim leader in exile. As if to confirm this, Isatou Njie-Saidy, the vice-president, urged the Supreme Islamic Council to carry out research into the exact requirements of an Islamic Republic, during a meeting on January 5th. 

    But there is likely more than just caprice behind Mr Jammeh’s decision. The economy is in dire straits, especially in the aftermath of west Africa’s Ebola epidemic, which has crippled the tourist industry. The Treasury is all but empty. Mr Jammeh’s Islamic gestures seem aimed at winning the support of Arab Gulf states, most notably Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, whose cash and investment the president is thought to crave. There is little hope of him getting much support from the West. In December 2014, for example, the EU suspended some €13m ($14.2m) of development aid because of human-rights abuses.

    Domestic politics may have also played a role. Since coming to power in a coup in 1994, Mr Jammeh has sought to legitimise his rule by invoking Islam, says Dr Marloes Janson of the School of Oriental and African Studies. The beginning of 2016 marks the start of a new electoral cycle, though Mr Jammeh faces little risk of being sacked by voters. He has won four elections in the past, with the help of some judicious rigging. The opposition are cowed. The Gambia is less an Islamic Republic than an absolute monarchy.

     

     

     

     

     

    The Economist


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  • JAMMEH calls for 'peaceful resolution - BBC reports

    11/Jan/2017 // 2811 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JANUARY 11, 2016: (DGW) THERE  appears to be a peaceful resolution to the ongoing political impasse in The Gambia as the country's longstanding ruler, President Yahya Jammeh reportedly appointed a mediator general, BBC is reporting.

    This was disclosed in a nationwide address and assured all of a peaceful resolution saying he'd instructed the justice ministry and parliament to come up with an amnesty law to avoid any "witch hunt".

    He called all to forgive each other, especially the political class.


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  • Again, JAMMEH backpedals, vows not to step down till court rules - BBC reports

    11/Jan/2017 // 1454 Viewers

     

    Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has said he will not step down before a Supreme Court decision on disputed elections, a ruling now not expected until May.

    In a nationwide TV broadcast, the longstanding ruler also reiterated his concern at "foreign interference".

    Regional mediators, led by Nigeria's president, are expected in The Gambia on Friday to urge him to accept defeat following December's election.

    President-elect Adama Barrow says he will be inaugurated next week.
    Mr Jammeh, who initially accepted defeat in the 1 December poll, lodged a case before the Supreme Court after the electoral commission changed some results.

    But the commission insists the outcome was not affected by an initial error and property developer Mr Barrow narrowly won.

    Mr Jammeh seized power in the tiny country in 1994 and has been accused of human rights abuses, although he has held regular elections.

    The president made his speech on Tuesday evening after it was announced that the Supreme Court hearing would be delayed until May because of a shortage of judges, who mostly come from neighbouring countries.

    The chief justice suggested mediation would be the best way forward as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and other West African leaders head to the country in another attempt to end the deadlock.

    But Mr Jammeh said his cabinet and the National Assembly would remain in place "to ensure the rule of law is upheld" pending the court's ruling.
    "[Under the constitution], only the Supreme Court can review our challenge and only the Supreme Court can declare anyone president," he said.
    'Smear campaign'

    The president lashed out at the UN, the African Union and the West African regional body Ecowas for their "hasty resolutions" given the peaceful nature of the dispute so far.

    "Our review and investigation have revealed an unprecedented level of foreign interference in our elections and internal affairs. And also, a sustained smear campaign, propaganda and misinformation," he said.
    The Gambia would not allow any organisation, treaty or law to supersede its constitution, he added.

    The 51-year-old leader also appointed a national mediator to meet "all parties to resolve any mistrust and issues" and draft an amnesty bill to ensure there was "no witch-hunt so that we can restore a climate of confidence and security".

    The Gambia, a popular tourist destination, has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965.

    *Original post appeared first on BBC


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  • Okonjo-Iweala gets double national honours from Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia (PHOTOS INCLUDED)

    12/Dec/2016 // 561 Viewers

     

    DAILY TRUST: A former Nigeria's minister of Finance Mrs Ngozi Okonja-Iweala has been awarded with national honours in Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.

     
    According to Ngozi, the honours where conferred on her  for her works on development in supporting the two countries and Africa.
     
    She was decorated by Côte d'Ivoire's President Alassane Ouattara and Liberia's President Johnson-Sirleaf.
     
    Ngozi across her social media platforms wrote: "I'm grateful to His Excellency, President Alassane Ouattara, and Her Excellency, President Johnson-Sirleaf, for the National Honors of Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia conferred on me for works on development supporting the two countries and Africa."
     
    Ngozi 1
     


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  • Finally, JAMMEH shocks the world ahead of ADAMA BARROW's inauguration on JANUARY 19

    12/Jan/2017 // 8014 Viewers

     

    Gambia’s outgoing President Yayah Jammeh will not step down when his mandate ends on January 18 in spite of his electoral defeat. This was revealed by the Gambian Ministry of Information on Thursday.

    The autocrat, who ruled the small West African nation for 22 years, will remain in office until the Supreme Court decides on a petition filed by Jammeh.

    According to the statement, Jammeh is challenging the result of the December 1 presidential election.

    President-elect. Adama Barrow, a former real estate agent, who was little known before he announced his candidacy, meanwhile reiterated he is planning to take office on January 19, as scheduled.

    Earlier, Gambia’s current dysfunctional Supreme Court adjourned hearing Jammeh’s petition till January 16 since only one of a required minimum of five judges was present.

    Experts, however, believe it will be highly unlikely that four additional judges will be present on Monday.

    This is because the Supreme Court has not been operational since Jammeh fired several of the court’s judges in mid-2016.

    All other eligible Court of Appeal judges left the country after the December election.

    However, observers fear that delays to the planned handover of power could lead to violence.


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  • 'Silent crisis' in Boko Haram-hit Cameroon: UN

    12/Jun/2016 // 462 Viewers

     

    A wounded woman is evacuated by rescuers after suicide attacks in January 2016 in the border city of Kerawa, northern Cameroon, in a region targeted by Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists (AFP Photo/)

    Geneva (AFP) - Unabated attacks by Boko Haram in Cameroon have sparked soaring food insecurity and driven 190,000 people from their homes, creating fertile ground for recruitment by the jihadists, the UN warned.

    Nigeria-based Boko Haram fighters have in recent months carried out fewer spectacular attacks and suicide bombings in neighbouring Cameroon.

    But the UN humanitarian coordinator for the country Najat Rochdi said the jihadists were attacking villages and burning homes and fields across northern Cameroon on a daily basis.

    "The impact of the violence by Boko Haram is not over, and we have to remain vigilant," she told AFP this week.

    While the current attacks are less eye-catching, they have a more devastating effect, Rochdi said.

    She said that in the last six months alone, the number of Cameroonians displaced within their own country had jumped from 60,000 to 190,000.

    In addition, Cameroon is hosting 60,000 refugees from Nigeria and another 312,000 from the Central African Republic, amounting to more than 500,000 displaced people in all.

    The number at risk of going hungry, she said, has meanwhile soared from 900,000 to 2.4 million since January, as Boko Haram fighters have continued to attack fields and food supply routes.

    "It is a kind of silent crisis, which is really the danger," Rochdi said, warning that if humanitarian needs are not addressed in Cameroon, "we will see a radicalisation" of young people in the country.

    "If people are not left with some hope, the only alternative for them is Boko Haram," she cautioned.

    She said the problem was communicating what truly is at stake to international donors, with only 30 percent of the requested $280 million (248-million-euro) humanitarian aid budget for Cameroon this year funded so far.

    "The gap in terms of humanitarian assistance is just dramatic," she said, insisting that providing desperately need assistance in the country was not just about saving lives.

    "It is also about making sure that there is no fertile ground for recruitment by Boko Haram."

    Boko Haram's insurgency is one of the world's most brutal conflicts, leaving at least 20,000 people dead since it began in 2009, with more than 2.6 million others displaced.

    A multinational force from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon has since last year significantly weakened the group but have been unable to vanquish the Islamists entirely.

    Rochdi acknowledged that Boko Haram had been more successful in recruiting inside Cameroon last year, but said that could quickly change.

    Some 250 children recruited or abducted by Boko Haram have meanwhile managed to escape over the past nine months or so, she said, adding most of them were "in very bad shape".

    "Some of them were little girls who came with their babies. They were raped every day," she said.

     


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  • BUHARI, MAHAMA, others to storm GAMBIA today for serious talks with JAMMEH to hand over power to BARROW

    13/Dec/2016 // 4217 Viewers

     


    President Muhammadu Buhari is visiting The Gambia today. But this is no ceremonial trip. Buhari along with three other West African leaders will be in Banjul, the capital, to tell President Yahya Jammeh to “leave office” following his defeat in the December 1 general election.

    A source disclosed last night that an advance team had left Abuja for Banjul. With Buhari on the trip are Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) chair and Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sierra Leone leader Ernest Bai Koroma and outgoing Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama.

    “These leaders will ask him to leave office,” a source said yesterday.
    Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye said an ECOWAS delegation was due in Banjul last week but Jammeh did not allow them to visit.

    In a U-turn at the weekend, the temperamental Jammeh, who has ruled The Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, rejected his stunning electoral defeat to opposition candidate Adama Barrow.

    Barrow is due to welcome the ECOWAS delegation, which will also include United Nations (UN) representatives, which the president-elect said gave him hope that he would soon take power.

    Mrs Sirleaf said at the weekend that the reversal of Jammeh’s decision “threatened peace”.

    She asked him  to “do the right thing and take actions to facilitate a smooth and peaceful transition in The Gambia.”

    Barrow is quoted by French news agency (AFP) as saying: It’s giving us confidence and it will give confidence to every Gambian that the world is concerned about Gambia.”

    Barrow rejected Jammeh’s decision to challenge the result in the Supreme Court, saying:

    “We don’t have time to fight again. The Supreme Court wasn’t existing in the last one year. There are a pile of cases that are waiting… but he doesn’t care about it.

    “I think he should step down now. He has lost the election, we don’t want to waste time, we want this country to start moving.”
    The coalition led by Barrow also called on Jammeh to step down immediately and hand over power.

    The coalition said in the statement that the president had no constitutional authority in his final days in office to name new Supreme Court judges to hear his petition.

    The visiting leader will also meet with Barrow, it was learnt.
    According to the electoral commission Barrow won 222,708 votes (43.3%) to Jammeh’s 208,487 (39.6%). A third-party candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 89,768 (17.1%).

    Mrs Sirleaf said The Gambia could be plunged into violence by the president’s decision to reject election results in which he was defeated.

    ECOWAS head Marcel Alain de Souza said President Yahya Jammeh must respect The Gambian people’s choice, describing his U-turn as shameful.
    Jammeh, who conceded victory to property developer Barrow immediately after the election, changed his mind on Saturday. He alleged that the poll was marred by irregularities and demanded a new vote organised by a “God-fearing” electoral commission.
    The Islamic Republic of The Gambia, is a country in West Africa mostly surrounded by Senegal with a short strip of its coastline bordered on the Atlantic Ocean at its western end. It is the smallest country in mainland Africa.

    The Gambia is situated on either side of the Gambia River, the nation’s namesake, which flows through the centre of the Gambia and empties into the Atlantic Ocean. Its area is 10,689 square kilometres (4,127 sq mi) with a population of 1,882,450 at the 15 April 2013 census (provisional). Banjul is the Gambian capital, and the largest cities are Serekunda and Brikama.

    The Gambia shares historical roots with many other West African nations in the slave trade, which was the key factor in the placing and keeping of a colony on the Gambia River, first by the Portuguese, during which era it was known as A Gâmbia.

    On 18 February 1965, The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom. Since then, the Gambia has had two leaders: Dawda Jawara, who ruled from 1970 until 1994, and Jammeh, who seized power in a coup that year as a young army officer.

    The Gambia’s economy is dominated by farming, fishing, and especially tourism. About a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 per day.


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  • No deal reached as JAMMEH humiliates BUHARI, other West African leaders in Banjul

    13/Dec/2016 // 72900 Viewers

     

     PARIS, DECEMBER 13, 2016: (DGW) President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria together with other West African leaders who departed for Banjul to hold talks with President Jammeh for a handover of power were on Tuesday humiliated as no deal was reportedly reached to make him rescind his decision, DailyGlobeWatch reliably gathered.

    The mediation delegation to The Islamic Republic of Gambia on behalf of the West African ECOWAS bloc failed to end  the looming  political crisis in the West African state as President Yayah Jammeh reportedly stood his  ground calling for fresh poll alleging that the previous one was marred by gross irregularities.

    "It is not time for a deal. It is not something that can happen in one day. It is something we have to work on," Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel peace laureate said after a round of meetings that included talks with incumbent president Yahya Jammeh and president-elect Adama Barrow.

    A source privy to the talks revealed exclusively to our reporter that ''Buhari ought to have put his house in order before coming to the Gambia calling to mind the irregularities that trailed 2015 federal elections in Nigeria that brought him to power.

    His words: President Buhari as one of the mediators annoys us, Gambia is not Nigeria, we have always conducted elections in our country devoid of irregularities. We are not unaware of the huge electoral fraud in Nigeria on whose back he rode to power, let him put his house in order before teaching us to suck eggs.''


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  • JUST IN: NIGERIAN ARMY denies plans to invade THE GAMBIA

    13/Jan/2017 // 2103 Viewers

    Brigadier Sani Usman, Director Army Public Relations, Nigerian Army

     

    The Nigerian Army has denied an online report that it is planning to attack The Gambia, in order to remove the country’s President Yaya Jammeh from office.

    The denial is contained in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja by Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman, the Director, Army Public Relations.

    “For the avoidance of doubt, Nigerian Army is not planning to attack any country.

    “The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a publication by Premium Times online news medium titled “EXCLUSIVE: Nigeria raises troops for Gambia, ready to remove Yahya Jammeh”.

    “This is not true.

    “Consequently, Nigerian Army wishes to disassociate itself from such false information that exists only in the figment of the imagination of the medium.

    “It should be noted that such reckless and unprofessional conduct is not expected of any reputable and responsible news medium as it is inimical to national security,” Usman said.

    He said that at “no time or place Nigerian Army disclosed such information to the medium. If there is any, we challenge them to name the officer or soldier that gave them such information and when.”

    The army spokesman noted that the publication apart from being false in its entirety, was unethical and capable of endangering the lives of Nigerians in diaspora.

    “The medium is please requested to always clarify such matters affecting national security and diplomatic issues that may endanger the safety and security of Nigerians abroad to avoid such misleading and embarrassing publication.”


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  • JUST IN: Again, BUHARI departs ABUJA today for BANJUL to beg JAMMEH

    13/Jan/2017 // 13039 Viewers

     

    President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to Banjul, the capital of The Gambia and Bamako, the Malian capital from January 13 to 14, 2017.

    The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement today.

    According to Adesina, in Banjul, Buhari, as the mediator in The Gambia, is scheduled to meet with President Yahya Jammeh and President-elect Adama Barrow to continue dialogue on the political situation in the West African country.

    He said Buhari would be joined by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone and the immediate past President of Ghana John Mahama who is the co-meditator of The Gambian mission. 

    The presidential spokesman said later on January 13, Buhari would travel to Bamako, Mali, to participate in the 27th Africa–France Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence convened by French President Francois Hollande.

    He said the summit is aimed at strengthening cooperation between France and African countries in the areas of peace and security, economic partnership and development.

    Adesina stated: Recognising the role played by France in the successes so far recorded in the implementation of the regional initiative against terrorism, President Buhari will reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to global efforts on the war against terror and underline the need for improved collaboration to address the menace of terrorism in the region.

    "President Buhari will use the opportunity of the summit to underscore the efforts government is making to improve Nigeria's business environment to attract more foreign direct investment.

    "The president will be accompanied by Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defence."

     


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