Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
The citizens in the Gambia are enjoying freedom after over two decades of highhanded reign by former president Yahya Jammeh.
According to a recent report released by U.S. based pro-democracy outlet Freedom House, The Gambia had moved from the status of ‘not free’ to partially free.’
They pinned the change squarely on the exit of Jammeh and efforts of the Adama Barrow – led government. They also mentioned competitive legislative elections held in April 2017. Jammeh’s party recorded massive losses in the polls.
With the departure of former president Yahya Jammeh, exiled journalists and activists returned, political prisoners were released, ministers declared their assets to an ombudsman, and the press union began work on media-sector reform.
In a summarized explanation of how The Gambia’s status changed, the report said: “The Gambia’s status improved from Not Free to Partly Free, its political rights rating improved from 6 to 4, and its civil liberties rating improved from 6 to 5 due to the installation of newly elected president Adama Barrow into office in January and the holding of competitive legislative elections in April.
“Among other openings associated with the departure of former president Yahya Jammeh, exiled journalists and activists returned, political prisoners were released, ministers declared their assets to an ombudsman, and the press union began work on media-sector reform.”
Barrow – a then opposition coalition candidate defeated Jammeh in December 2016 elections. The latter accepted the results but later backtracked citing irregularities. ECOWAS mediation on the matter did not reap results but for last minute intervention by Guinean and Mauritanian leaders. Jammeh is now living in Equatorial Guinea.
Barrow recently received a doctorate from the University of The Gambia but said he wanted to maintain his title “mister.” He is seen as a more modest president as compared to his predecessor who had a series of titles to his name. At a point his name had three titles ‘Sheikh Prof Alhaji’ Yahya A. J. Jammeh Babili Mansa.