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Resolution of the Gambian crisis deserves more recognition

The political crisis in the Gambia was resolved with the help of neighbouring countries under the auspices of West African sub-regional body Ecowas in collaboration with the African Union. In the end, this turned out to be a case of ‘African solutions for African problems’. According to NAI’s Head of Research Victor Adetula this positive development has not been given as much attention as it deserves in the international media.

Troops from Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal were deployed to their borders with the Gambia when president Yahya Jammeh refused to leave office following his defeat by Adama Barrow in the December 2016 presidential election.

“Without firing a bullet the political impasse was resolved by the Ecowas leaders. Although former president Jammeh had become a “bad guy” of West Africa, the leaders were committed to peaceful resolution of the crisis, evidently guided by the lessons of the experiences of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. This is a demonstration of political maturity and a new culture of peace in the region”, Victor Adetula states.

Even though the Gambia is a tiny country with a small economy, Adetula believes the scenario would have been similar if it had involved one of the big countries in West Africa, with stronger economic and military power.

“The cases of Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana, where the opposition defeated the incumbent in relatively peaceful elections that were followed by peaceful transition of power, suggest that electoral democracy is gaining more ground in Africa, and a culture of peace is getting rooted among all and sundry. I do believe that the sit-tight syndrome we’ve been witnessing in Africa soon will be yesterday’s history”, Adetula says.

TEXT: Johan Sävström

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