Sheriff Mahmud Ismail in Banjul: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 December 2021:
Following the announcement last evening by the Independent Election Commission of The Gambia in which the incumbent President Adama Barrow was declared winner; there have been concerns among observers and citizens alike that there could be post-election disturbances.
This concern was particularly heightened when an alliance of three, including the main opposition United Democratic Party, issued a press statement rejecting the results on the basis of what they described as widespread irregularities.
Acting on such concern, the former African Heads of States heading the various observer missions immediately shifted to preventive diplomacy. This is the swift behind -the -scenes engagement with key players with a view to peacefully mediate and resolve post-election disputes and ultimately averting outbreak of violence.
Post-election violence in Kenya in 2017 and in Cote D’Ivoire in 2011 resulted in considerable loss of lives and threat to national peace and cohesion. African leaders and international organizations have therefore put high premium in prevention rather than intervention.
Thus, the highly successful preventive diplomacy implemented in Zambia by Sierra Leone’s former president Ernest Bai Koroma under the auspices of the African Union has been deployed in The Gambia, following the post-election result announcement by the opposition last night.
Three former Heads of States – Olusengun Obasanjo, Ngalema Mothlanthe and Ernest Bai Koroma, representing the Commonwealth, the African Union and ECOWAS respectively, have paid a courtesy call on the main opposition leader Ousainu Darboe at his residence in Banjul and appealed to him to rein in his supporters and to keep the peace.
The three former African presidents urged the Gambian veteran politician, who’s incidentally a lawyer, to use the legal alternative to resolve any disagreements he may have with the just concluded polls.
Darboe said he has been in opposition for 20 years without creating any social unrest nor does he have any intention of doing so now. If need be, he assured that he would use the courts.
In their individual preliminary statements released this morning, all the observer missions also specifically urged political parties to keep the peace, and commended the Gambian people for holding peaceful, free, transparent and credible election.