Head of The Gambia Press Union, Emil Touray, announced that Gambian security forces have demanded two private radio stations to close. These moves have come in the wake of President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept the results of the December 1 election.
This is the first visible sign of a crackdown on the media from the Gambian strongman. On the day of the election, the president had blocked public access to the internet and access to international calls.
Touray called the closure of Teranga FM and Hilltop Radio a “slap in the face” for democracy in the country.
A staff member, speaking on condition of anonymity to AFP, said that four National Intelligence Agency agents and a police officer arrived at Teranga FM offices on Sunday and forced it close. The manager of Teranga FM, Alagie Ceesay, was arrested in July 2015 and accused of sedition and publishing false news.
The United Nations (UN) and Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) have urged President Jammeh to accept the outcome of the polls and step down peacefully. Jammeh lost the polls to property developer Adama Barrow by 43.3% to 39.6%.
Jammeh initially accepted the results, even phoning Barrow to congratulate him. But when the Independent Electoral Commission announced a miscount in the votes in one district, Jammeh retracted his acceptance. He has since lodged a complaint with the Gambian Supreme Court. The matter is to be heard on January 10.
Jammeh has been in power since 1994, when he staged a bloodless coup.
The small West African country has not had a smooth transition of power since being granted independence from Great Britain in 1965.