Rights at Risk as Calls for Jammeh’s Exit Intensify
The government of President Yahya Jammeh, defeated in Gambia’s December presidential election, has arbitrarily arrested opposition sympathizers and closed three independent radio stations in the past week, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International said today. Jammeh is required under Gambia’s Constitution to cede power to President-elect Adama Barrow by January 19, 2017.
Since December 31, intelligence agents have arrested and briefly detained at least six people for wearing or selling T-shirts bearing the logo of the #Gambiahasdecided movement, which has called for Jammeh to respect the election results and step down. Several senior members of the movement have fled Gambia after receiving credible threats from alleged National Intelligence Agency (NIA) officers. On January 1, 2017, intelligence agents forcibly closed three private radio stations, depriving Gambians of independent sources of information during this critical period.
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Expressing dismay at the takeover of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) premises by the military in Gambia, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the security forces to immediately vacate the Commission and to refrain from any further acts that could jeopardise efforts towards the peaceful transfer of power.
“This action violates the independent status of the Commission under the Gambian constitution, and could compromise the sensitive electoral material under the IEC’s custody,” said Mr. Ban, according to a statement issued by his office.
“He condemns this outrageous act of disrespect of the will of the Gambian people and defiance towards the international community at a time when a high-level Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation was in the country to broker a peaceful transfer of power,” the statement added.
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Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has rejected the outcome of the presidential election in the country, in which he lost to opposition’s Adama Barrow.
Jammeh, who ruled the country for 22 years, surprisingly lost the latest election, gaining 36.7% of votes against Barrow’s 45.5%.
“After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election. I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process,” Jammeh said on Friday, as quoted by The Guardian.
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