Ecowas Intervention And Democratization In West African Sub-region(a Study Of Gambia 2016 General Election)

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1.1     Background of the Study

Presidential elections were held in Gambia on 1 December, 2016. The incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, appeared confident of securing a fifth term in office. An army Lieutenant who became President of the Gambia after ceasing power in a bloodless coup d’état on 22 July 1994, President Jammeh was a quintessential African President-for-life. Behind a façade of regular presidential and parliamentary elections, President Jammeh maintained control of Gambia through the tried-and-tested techniques of authoritarianism. Intimidation of political opponents, harassment of journalists, pay-offs to loyalists, electoral fraud and gerrymandering, and the control of civil society by an overbearing security apparatus ensured Yahya Jammeh’s continued grip on power.

The 2016 election was supposed to be no different. Dissidents and opposition leaders were threatened, and at times imprisoned and tortured, and the State media actively campaigned for President Jammeh. This led observers to dismiss the possibility that the election would be free and fair. Citing these irregularities, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that it would not participate in observing the election, while the European Union was denied entry to the country, despite having had initial indications that it would be allowed to monitor the election. This left a small contingent of African Union (AU) observers as the only foreign actor overseeing the election.

Casting their votes using marbles instead of paper ballots, 8 Gambians delivered a stunning result. After twenty-two years in office, Yahya Jammeh was defeated by Adama Barrow, a real-estate agent, who succeeded in rallying the opposition parties around his candidacy. The final tally gave Barrow 227,708 votes to Jammeh’s 208,487, while a third-party candidate, Mamma Kandeh, received 89,768 votes.

Unexpectedly for a ruler whose eccentricities earned him the honorific of being dubbed West Africa’s Gaddafi, Yahya Jammeh conceded the election. One week later, however, in an equally unexpected volte-face, Yahya Jammeh announced his ‘total rejection’ of the results. Citing ‘serious and unacceptable abnormalities’, Yahya Jammeh annulled the elections and called for holding new elections under the supervision of an independent electoral commission. One explanation for Jammeh’s ostensibly erratic behavior is that he was blindsided by his electoral loss and gracefully conceded defeat as a tactical maneuver to buy precious time to find a solution to his predicament, and then decided to call for a revote in a bid to cling to power or to negotiate a safe exit from the country to avoid prosecution over allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

The essence of this study is therefore to carry out an empirical analysis of ECOWAS intervention and democraticpation in West Africa Sub-Region. A study of Gambia 2016 general elections.

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Prior to 1st December, 2016, the democracy was found wanting in the administrative strategy of Gambia. Since 1994, the Gambia Diaspora as a social movement has carried out and sustained anti-Jammeh mobilization through several advocacy organizations, online media houses, and networks created over the years to ‘restore democracy' in Gambia. They have gone to a great length in their efforts to influence regime change in Gambia both through non-violent and ‘violent’ means. Over 20 years, they have carried out several political activities including mass mobilization for demonstrations, issuing of press releases, lobbying transnational Non- governmental organizations (NGO) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch; and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) such as the EU, ECOWAS, AU, United Nations (UN); and states such as the US, UK, Norway. They have also used military efforts to oust the dictatorship of Jammeh and allegedly sponsored mass protest for electoral reform in the period leading up to the 2016 elections. These efforts were not effective prior to the intervention of ECOWAS. However, ECOWAS intervention and restoration of democracy in Gambia has not received much attention from researchers and international relations experts. This is the motivation of this study.

1.3     Purpose of the Study

 The primary purpose of this study is to carry out an empirical of ECOWAS intervention and democracy in West Africa sub-region with particular reference to Gambia 2016 general elections. This study will also go ahead to provide recommendations based on the findings of the study.

1.4     Significance of the Study

The importance of carrying out a study on ECOWAS intervention in Gambia 2016 general presidential election cannot be overemphasized. This study will be of great significance to the government of African countries. This study will also be of a significant importance to researchers, students and the general public. Finally, this study will be an addition to the existing stock of knowledge on the concept under study.  

1.5  Methodology, Sources, and Organization of the Study    

Methodology is the technique and procedure used in carrying out research. This explains the structural framework of the research; dealing with data generation, collection and analysis. This approach ensures that data gathered from secondary sources (such as books, journals, internet material and so on) are in line with the area of study. This study will be pursued primarily from an explanatory approach based on existing literature, including information and data gathered within and outside Gambia. In as much as qualitative method would be applied in the collation and analysis of available data, eclectic and holistic methods may not be divorced. The organization of study is the systematic arrangement of this work chapter by chapter. Chapter one serves as an introduction to the study. It contains the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose and significance of the study, scope and limitations of the study, theoretical framework and literature review.

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Ecowas Intervention And Democratization  In West African Sub-region