Gambian IEC chief goes into hiding


The head of Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), who announced President Yahya Jammeh’s shock electoral loss, has fled the country.

The announcement was made via Facebook by the chief, Alieu Momar Njai’s son, Momodou on Tuesday evening. Momodou thanked supporters for their prayers and assured everyone of his father’s safety.

Jammeh had initially accepted the defeat, but then changed his mind on hearing of a miscount in one district. The miscount narrowed Adama Barrow’s margin of victory from 9% to 4%. Shortly thereafter, security forces temporarily took over the IEC offices.

The incumbent president has ruled the country since 1994, when he took over following a successful, but bloodless coup. His rule has been marred by allegations of human rights abuses.

In what appears to be the first steps in a crackdown on the media, three private radio stations were forced to close down since Sunday. Aside from occupying the IEC offices, in the run up to the elections, a number of opposition party leaders were arrested and on the day of the election, government locked down the internet, preventing citizens from accessing the internet and making international phone calls.

The United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) have pushed for a diplomatic solution, urging Jammeh to step aside. Jammeh has rejected the calls.

Ecowas have also threatened sanctions against him if he does not step down.