Jammeh's announcement to relinquish power is a good first step, said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa. "For the Gambia to truly move on, President Barrow must reside in state house and begin the task of governing. In an ideal scenario, Jammeh will also face justice for the many crimes he has committed since 1994."
A longtime dictator in one of Africa’s smallest countries is refusing to relinquish power, ignoring a Jan. 18 deadline set by a coalition of neighboring countries who have threatened to use military action to force his departure. Gambia is now on tenterhooks as West African troops entered Gambian territory late on Jan. 19, giving Yahya Jammeh just hours to cede power and end his 23-year-long dictatorship.
“That a regional bloc is willing to go beyond mere rhetoric, and defend the will and democratic aspirations of an entire people, speaks volumes and will undoubtedly resonate well beyond the Gambia,” said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Washington-based Vanguard Africa, a nonprofit organization that has worked closely with the Gambian opposition.
“It’s not altogether surprising that Jammeh is refusing to step down,” Executive Director of Vanguard Africa Jeff Smith told The Cipher Brief. “Over the course of two decades he has shown a callous unwillingness to be reasonable and to do the right thing for the country. In this way, his seeming intention to bring unnecessary disorder and anxiety to the country is consistent with his past behavior,” he said.
The Cameroonian government has banned two Anglophone organisations amid ongoing tensions in its English-speaking areas. Now a security analyst has warned IBTimes UK that this action could send the English-speaking regions into a cycle of guerilla attacks by protesters against security forces.
The small West African nation of Gambia is rapidly approaching a crucial deadline. On Thursday, authoritarian President Yahya Jammeh’s 23-year-long rule is set to end after his unexpected election defeat last month. But there is little indication that Jammeh intends to give up power.
West African countries are reportedly preparing for a military intervention in Gambia if President Yahya Jammeh refuses to step down on Thursday, the day that his successor Adama Barrow was scheduled to take office.
"Many people have wondered whether this might be the sort of arrangement that Jammeh had been seeking all along, and might help explain his sudden refusal to accept defeat. For many reasons, a deal that would land Jammeh in another country, safe and avoiding prosecution for his many brutal crimes, would send the wrong message," said Jeffrey Smith, director of Vanguard Africa.
Executive Director of Vanguard Africa Jeffrey Smith tells The Cipher Brief, “The Gambia is undoubtedly a pariah state in West Africa and an extreme outlier in regards to other countries in the region who are performing rather well on a range of issues, including respect for political rights, civil liberties, and economic advancement.”
"I think Gambians ought to be commended for the peaceful manner in which they have dealt with this increasingly tense situation, and in spite of Jammeh’s many provocations. Overall, Gambians are simply ready to move on. They are ready to move on from the Jammeh dictatorship and begin to heal from the collective trauma that they have suffered since July 1994."