Gambia Government and Politics

Two members of the Armed Forces Provisional Council were arrested in January 1995 and charged with trying to restore power to civilians. In March, Jammeh also arrested the former Attorney General and State Attorney for promoting a return to civilian rule. In November, the military junta expanded the powers of the security forces.

The military government declared it would hold parliamentary and presidential elections in June 1996. Still, the discharge was abandoned. Following a referendum in August, a new constitution was adopted. Jammeh characterized this step as the first step on the road to the re-establishment of civil political life. Until then, he had been chief of the Armed Forces Military Government, and in September he was elected as the country’s 2nd elected president.

Gambia Country Flag

In August 1997, the government lifted the last restrictions on political life that had been in effect since the military coup in 1994. In March 1998, Jammeh reduced the number of members in its cabinet. At the same time, the country was elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The detention of Muslim leaders became more frequent throughout 1998. In August, Jammeh traveled to Mauritania for a meeting with President Moaouia Ould Sidi Mohammed Taya, to “find a solution to the conflict that had ravaged Guinea-Bissau for two months.”

In May 1999, opposition politician Ousainou accused Darboe of the UDP, the government of arresting party members and of maintaining a “false” democracy. On June 9, Jammeh accused Western donor countries of condoning their assistance in respecting human rights and democracy. A few days later, leaders from Casamance, Senegal in Gambia met to work out a joint strategy for Senegal peace talks.

On September 25, at the UN General Assembly, Jammeh accused the World Organization of its “slowness and lack of accountability for the conflicts that ravaged Africa”. A month later, the Press Union criticized a new “government move to regulate freedom of the press”. The government wanted annual reviews on the editorial boards, and at the same time the Minister of Information threatened the press to withdraw its permits. In January 2000, security forces thwarted a “coup attempt” and detained two officers – the rebel’s alleged backmen.

Together with 44 other countries – predominantly African – the Gambia lost the right to vote in the UN General Assembly on February 2, 2000 – ‘ lack of payments to the World Organization ยป.

The Association of Sahel-Saharan States (Comessa) met in Chad on February 5, taking on Gambia, Senegal and Djibouti as new members of the organization. The 11 member states agreed “not to intervene in the internal affairs of other member states, not to make territory available to opponents of another member state, and not to support resistance forces in some of the other member states”.

On April 11, students and police clashed in the streets of Banjul, condemning the students “to face illegal detention.” Six people were killed during the clashes and the police were put on the highest alert. The International Red Cross condemned that one of their staff members had been shot despite being clearly identifiable.

Gambia Head of Government

History. – From the beginning of the Sixties, while the colonial authorities favored a certain economic and social progress (opening of new schools, health dispensaries, etc.), Gambia’s political life became more dynamic: at the Democratic party, at the Muslim congress party, and the United party, which they had followed only at the Uolofs of the “colony” (ie the Bathurst area), was joined in 1960 by the Protectorate people’s party founded by Dauda Jawara, which appealed to the Mandingo populations of the inland region (considered as a “protectorate”). In the first elections by universal suffrage for the House of Representatives, held in May 1960, the United party obtained 5 of the 7 seats due to the “colony” (two were assigned to independent candidates); Jawara’s party had 8 of the 12 “protectorate” seats. The political maturity reached allowed the further evolution of the country: a new constitution (1962) granted self-government, in place since 1963 with a coalition chaired by D. Jawara; on February 18, 1965 Gambia became independent. Led by Prime Minister Jawara, leader of the renamed People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the independent Gambia showed an unusual political stability in Africa: following the elections of May 1966, the PPP won 24 of the 32 seats in the Chamber, while the United party moved to the opposition; in 1968 some exponents expelled from the PPP for indiscipline formed the Progressive people’s alliance. The introduction of the republican institutional form, rejected by a referendum in 1965, was instead accepted and introduced in 1970; Jawara, who became president, was confirmed in the 1972 elections (28 of the 32 seats in the PPP in the House).

Even before independence, given the size and territorial conformation of Gambia, the problem of its vitality as a sovereign state and the possibility, instead, of some integration relationship with Senegal, had arisen. In April 1961 an inter-ministerial Senegal-Gambian Committee was formed; in 1962, at the request of the two parties, the UN commissioned a commission to present a report on the prospects for collaboration between the two countries. This document, made public in June 1964, offered three possibilities: complete integration, creation of a federation, cooperation agreements. At the latter, less demanding level, the two governments concluded a series of cooperation agreements – on foreign policy, security and defense, of exploitation of the Gambia river basin – signed at the time of the Gambia’s independence. A “treaty of association” was signed during the visit to Bathurst by the president of Senegal in 1967, which however did not translate into a more binding form of cooperation. The intense smuggling from Gambia to Senegal, and the renewed attempts to repress it, have sometimes created moments of tension between the two countries (as in January 1971). In April 1973 Jawara declared himself in favor of a progressive economic integration between Senegal and Gambia (which in recent years has recorded satisfactory economic progress); this understanding was confirmed in the visit to Gambia of the Senegalese president (January 1976). A friendship treaty with Liberia was signed in August 1974.

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