The Gambia. On the orders of President Yahya Jammeh, a campaign against corruption in the state apparatus was launched in October. One of the first victims was Baba Jobe, the group leader in the Parliament of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), and formerly one of the president’s closest advisers. He was charged with withholding tax and customs duties at import stores for his private company.
According to Countryaah.com, Gambia Independence Day is February 18. The head of the national tourism authority was suspended from his service for suspected involvement in the illegal sale of land intended for tourism. The same deal is believed to have been behind the dismissal in December by Minister of Information Yankuba Touray, although no official explanation was given for him to leave his post.
Gambia opens its borders
The Gambia is reopening its borders, which were closed in March in order to prevent the spread of the new corona virus. President Adama Barrow’s office says the decision is made after consultations with top-level health experts. However, the airport in Banjul will not be taken into use until the end of October, due to renovation work.
Ecomig’s presence in Gambia is questioned
The West African cooperation organization Ecowas extended its military operation, Ecomig, in Gambia in early September, at the request of President Adama Barrow. This raises speculation as to whether Barrow fears unrest after Parliament rejected the government’s proposal for a new constitution. Among those who question the decision that Ecomig should remain in the country are parts of the army that believe that it can manage to maintain order in the country.
Constitutional proposals are voted down
President Adama Barrow seems to be finding it difficult to get a proposal for a new constitution through Parliament. One of the changes from before is that the president will only be able to stand for re-election once. A heated debate erupts over whether the time limit should allow Barrow to run in the presidential election once or twice more. 31 MEPs are in favor of approval, but 23 of the 58 MEPs voted against the proposal, which must be approved by two-thirds of the House in order to be valid. Samba Jallow, from the National Reconciliation Party, which supports Barrow’s government, is among those who are voting no, among other things with reference to the fact that some new rules will apply retroactively. In the past, diplomats from the EU, the UK, The United States and Germany called on Parliament to approve the draft constitution as a clear signal that the country should have a fully democratic system. Had the proposal been approved, Gambian voters would have had a say in a referendum. Around the turn of the year 2019/2020, there were protests against Barrow with demands for his resignation (seeJanuary 2020). His government has also been criticized for arresting journalists. Work on the draft constitution has also cost large sums, $ 2 million.
The corona crisis is hitting the Gambia’s economy hard
In a speech to the nation, President Adama Barrow warns of the economic consequences for Gambia of the ongoing corona crisis. Central government revenues have fallen drastically, not least due to 20% falls in tax revenues and import duties. He also announces that the drilling for oil that should have started during the year has now been postponed until 2021.
The United States is imposing sanctions on ex-president Jammeh’s wife
US faces financial sanctions against Zineb Jammeh, wife of Gambia’s ex-president Yahya Jammeh, who went into exile in 2017 (see January 2017) who is now having his assets in the US frozen. The former president, who is subject to similar sanctions, is accused of committing widespread corruption during his 22 years in power. Zineb Jammeh is believed to be in control of a large part of her husband’s assets outside Gambia.
Senegalese soldiers in Gambia sick in covid-19
A large number of Senegalese soldiers who are part of the Ecowas force in Gambia have been infected by covid-19. The infected soldiers have been quarantined at a hotel in the coastal town of Guéréro, about 60 km south of Dakar. Other Senegalese soldiers, who make up the bulk of the Ecowas force, gather in the Senegalese village of Toubacouta, just north of the Gambia border.
The state of emergency is extended
President Adama Barrow is extending the state of emergency imposed by the corona pandemic for another 21 days. This is done with reference to the fact that the number of cases of covid-19 has increased significantly since mid-June. The Gambia has so far had just over 2,700 confirmed cases of the viral disease, and has reported 93 deaths. All public gatherings are forbidden, schools are kept closed and there is a night curfew. Mosques and churches may be kept open, provided that the safety regulations are complied with.