Gambia President-elect Adama Barrow is set to be sworn-in today (Thursday) at 4pm GMT at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, French Radio RFI reports today in its website, quoting Barrow spokesman Halifa Sallah.
ECOWAS leaders made the decision to hold the official inauguration outside Gambia amid former President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to leave the office peacefully. Barrow, a former security guard and real estate agent, was elected on December 1 in a poll declared free and fair by election observers.
But time seems to have since stopped in this impoverished tiny West African nation enclaved in Senegal. Jammeh’s term ended at midnight and Gambians have since been holding their breath, hoping that the dictator will leave peacefully to avoid ECOWAS troops currently camping at the country’s borders to ‘invade’ their country to flush Jammeh out.
The last mediation attempts by the Mauritanian head of state have all but failed. Senegal is also pressurising Jammeh, who has declared the state of emergency in the whole of Gambia in the face of foreign military invasion, as he puts it. Given the situation and the blockade in the capital Banjul, the investiture ceremony will be held in Dakar.
Marcel Alain de Souza, ECOWAS Commission chairperson and UN special envoy for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas are currently in Dakar to oversee the ceremony.
There is also the question of the judges, one or more, who are supposed to validate this ceremony. But, the presence of magistrates who fled the regime of Yahya Jammeh is mentioned in Dakar.
Many details of the ceremony are shrouded in secrecy due to the sensitivity of the issue and the volatility of the situation, RFI said, adding that ECOWAS troops were still waiting for orders to enter Gambia to take on Jammeh.
Very few credible news are coming out of Gambia, as Jammeh seems to have blocked independent media outlets from reporting on the issue.
Meanwhile, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said last night that seven journalists that were hoping to cover Barrow’s inauguration in Banjul were refused entry into Gambia.
The New York-based media watchdog has denounced the obstruction as a deliberate attempt to silence the press during a period of political unrest.
“The legitimacy of the Gambian government strongly depends on the press being allowed to report on the country’s political transition,” Peter Nkanga, CPJ’s West Africa representative, said in a statement.
“We call on authorities to allow all journalists to freely cover events in Gambia.”
(with the assistance of RFI, translation, final editing and additional reports by Issa Sikiti)
Photo: Gambia newly elected Adama Barrow. Credit: Marco Longari/AFP/RFI