Gambian President Yahya Jammeh [BBC profile] declared a state of emergency [Reuters report] Tuesday to avoid handing power over to President-elect Adama Barrow [BBC profile], who won the election last month. Gambia State Television [official website] said that the declaration will prevent a power vacuum while the Gambian Supreme Court deliberates on Jammeh’s petition challenging the election result. Amnesty International (AI) [AI report] that it provides no justification for a crackdown on peaceful dissent around the January 19, 2017, deadline for the new government to take office.
Gambia has been in a state of turmoil since the recent presidential election resulted in former opposition leader, and current Barrow’s victory over long-term president Jammeh. Earlier this week Jammeh filed for an injunction asking the Supreme Court to bar the swearing-in of President-elect Barrow [JURIST report]. Jammeh’s request for injunction comes in response to the Supreme Court delaying [JURIST report] the suit he filed after the December 1 election. Last month Jammeh said that he would challenge the election results before his country’s Supreme Court [JURIST report]. In November Human Rights Watch reported that intimidation of opposition leaders was threatening [JURIST report] a fair election in Gambia. This report came after the Gambian government announced that it would be leaving [JURIST report] the International Criminal Court (ICC). During the televised statement, Information Minister Sheriff Bojang criticized the court for ignoring western atrocities, referring to the ICC as “an International Caucasian Court.” Jammeh had previously called upon the court to investigate the death of African migrants [reuters report] attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to access Europe. Instead, Gambia alleges, the ICC has been disproportionately scrutinizing African leaders. Gambia’s intended departure was the third by an African nation.