Sierra Leone Telegraph: 2 December 2016
I was in The Gambia in March this year for a week, visiting my maternal ancestral homeland. The capital Banjul was bustling with human activity. But there was an eerie and uneasy calm, as political tension and media repression stifled free speech and civil liberty.
Yayah Jammeh’s twenty-two years of authoritarian rule have choked the spirit of Gambians, especially young people whose aspirations of a better and prosperous Gambia have been frustratingly dashed.
After twenty-two years in power, The Gambia has become a despotic state with family members and business associates of president Jammeh benefiting from lucrative contracts as well as running most of the country’s big businesses.
There are rumours that Jammeh has mortgaged the country’s tourism and groundnut driven economy to the Moroccans. Most imported household and consumer goods come from Morocco.
Tourism – the country’s main foreign exchange earner – especially from Europe, has in the past two years declined substantially, because of increasing political repression.
Gambia’s youth unemployment is one of the highest in the sub-region. Political repression has stifled the entrepreneurial zest of young Gambians. Thousands of educated unemployed young men and women could be seen sitting idly on the beaches – some selling handmade crafts to tourists to put food on the table.
Life under Jammeh has been very tough for Gambians, but yet the people have kept their dignity, and waited patiently for yesterday’s presidential polls to cast their votes.
Now the people have spoken. They have rejected twenty-two years of dictatorship, economic mismanagement and rampant corruption. This is how the BBC reports Jammeh’s shocking defeat: