Tropas senegalesas entraram esta quinta-feira na Gâmbia para obrigarem Yahya Jammeh, líder do país há mais de 20 anos, a abandonar o poder. A informação foi avançada por Abdou Ndiaye, do Exército do Senegal, à Reuters.
A entrada das tropas senegalesas na vizinha Gâmbia acontece pouco tempo depois de o presidente eleito, Adama Barrow, ter tomado posse na embaixada gambiana no Senegal. Barrow venceu o Jammeh nas eleições presidenciais de dezembro passado, pondo fim a 23 anos de liderança. Apesar de ter reconhecido inicialmente a derrota e de ter concordado em fazer a passagem de poder em janeiro, Jammeh voltou atrás com a palavra, admitindo não reconhecer os resultados eleitorais.
Para justificar a mudança de posição, o líder da Gâmbia disse que investigações revelaram irregularidades na votação, o que que considerou inaceitável. “Desta forma, rejeito os resultados na sua totalidade”, disse, durante uma mensagem transmitida pela televisão nacional.
O mandato de Jammeh terminou oficialmente esta quinta-feira. Na quarta, as forças senegalesas avançaram para a fronteira e,de acordocom o Washington Post, há tropas de outros países da África Ocidental a postos.
Yahya Jammeh subiu ao poder em 1994, depois de um golpe de Estado que levou ao afastamento de Dawda Jawara, presidente da Gâmbia desde 1970. Muitas vezes acusado de favorecer um pequeno círculo de políticos, Jammeh pouco ou nada tem feito para acabar com a pobreza que afeta grande parte do seu país. A situação, grave, levou a uma grande onda de emigração para países do Norte de África e Europa.
Conhecido pelas suas afirmações polémicas, já anunciou várias vezes em público ser capaz de curar a SIDA com o uso de ervas medicinais. Apesar de ter banido a mutilação genital da Gâmbia, defendendo que não existe espaço para esta prática violenta na “sociedade moderna ou no Islão”, Jammeh jurou que iria cortar as gargantas de todos os homossexuais, anunciando também que iria introduzir leis — mais rigorosas que as iranianas — que proibissem a homossexualidade na Gâmbia.
Senegal announced that its troops entered Gambia on Thursday in a bid
to force the West African country’s longtime ruler to step down
following an election loss, hours after the successor chosen by voters
last month took the oath of office from exile in the Senegalese capital.
“We have entered Gambia,” Senegalese army Col. Abdou Ndiaye wrote in a
text message to the Reuters news agency. There were no other immediate
details of the reported incursion. Videos of camouflaged Senegalese
tanks and Humvees driving toward the Gambian border circulated on social
By evening, the troops had not yet appeared in Banjul,
the Gambian capital, according to residents, but news of their
deployment had spread. Gambians poured into the streets in support of
the Senegalese forces and President Yahya Jammeh's ouster.
What's most important from where the world meets Washington
welcome them [Senegalese soldiers] because they will bring a president
who will restore democracy here,” said Modou Secka, who was part of a
jubilant crowd in Banjul. He wore a shirt with the slogan that Gambians
have chanted since last month’s election: “Gambia has decided.”
Another video posted on Twitter appeared to show Gambia’s army chief, Ousman Badjie, celebrating with a crowd of young men cheering for Jammeh’s removal.
Gambian soldiers were visible in parts of the city, witnesses said, but they did not obstruct the celebrations.
The Senegalese operation marks a rare instance in which an African
military has responded with force to a regional leader's refusal to step
down after an election. Across the continent, many African heads of
state have changed their countries' constitutions or rigged elections to
remain in power, with limited opposition.
to send troops to Gambia, with the support of a bloc of West African
nations, is a sign of just how unpopular Jammeh has become across the
a tiny country known for its large number of residents fleeing to
Europe and a coastline that draws scores of British sunbathers, has been
in a political crisis for weeks. Jammeh, 51, the mercurial strongman
who has ruled Gambia for 23 years, suffered a shocking loss in elections
on Dec. 1. He initially conceded defeat but then quickly changed his
mind and refused to step down.
The winner of the election, Adama
Barrow, also 51, was inaugurated in a small ceremony Thursday afternoon
at the Gambian Embassy in Senegal’s capital, Dakar.
"My right as a winner to be sworn in is constitutionally guaranteed," he said at the event.
Barrow is sworn in as President of Gambia at Gambia's embassy in Dakar
Senegal in this image taken from T.V., Jan 19, 2017. (AP/AP)
After the inauguration, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution throwing its “full support” to efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to
ensure Barrow took office, and urging Jammeh to step down. But it
stressed that political methods should be used before a military
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said
Thursday that the U.S. government supports the regional military action
West African nations have tried for weeks to
persuade Jammeh to step down, sending a slew of African leaders to
appeal to him in private meetings.
The military intervention is
supported by the 16 countries comprising ECOWAS — a bold and unusual
step that reflects the region's dissatisfaction with what they see as
his frequently unhinged leadership.
"The deployment is also to
forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from
the current political impasse in Gambia," the Nigerian government, a
member of ECOWAS, said in a statement.
officially expired at the end of Wednesday night. Earlier that day,
troops from Senegal moved to the border with Gambia. Troops from other
West African nations were said to be "on standby."
former army officer who first took power in a 1994 coup, has
increasingly become an international pariah. He is known for making
bizarre claims, such as touting his ability to cure AIDS with local
herbs. In Gambia, Jammeh’s many critics say he helped enrich a small
circle of politicians while doing little for the rest of the
impoverished country, leading to a massive exodus to North Africa and
He also vowed to slit the throats of gay men and ordered
security forces to round up hundreds of people accused of witchcraft.
Last year, he said Gambia would leave the International Criminal Court, which his administration mocked as the “International Caucasian Court.”
Foreign diplomats have suggested that Jammeh could be offered asylum in
Morocco or Nigeria in exchange for handing power to Barrow.
on Thursday, Jammeh apparently remained in Banjul at the presidential
palace. He made no public statements in the hours before Barrow's
In recent days, thousands more Gambians have fled the country. Among
them were some of Jammeh’s former cabinet members who severed ties with
him after he refused to concede the December election. The country’s
ambassador to Washington, Sheikh Omar Faye, said last month that Jammeh
“has created a serious post-election crisis and put the Gambia on a
Hundreds of foreign tourists, who flock to Gambia's hotel-dotted coastline, were evacuated this week.
Barrow has remained in Senegal while regional leaders tried to persuade
Jammeh to leave. The former real estate agent has little political
experience — he was once a security guard at a London department store —
but many Gambians see him as the symbol of a fresh start for the
country. Some of his supporters suggested that they would be willing to
fight Jammeh's forces if necessary.
“Those who resist peaceful
change, effective 12 midnight tonight, shall face definite consequences,
to their peril,” Mai Ahmad Fatty, one of Barrow's advisers, said in a
Facebook post Wednesday. “Anyone with firearms tonight shall be deemed a
rebel, and will certainly become a legitimate target.”
Still, Aziz, Mauritania's president, said his Wednesday meeting with Jammeh left him hopeful.
“I am now less pessimistic [Jammeh] will work on a peaceful solution
that is in the best interest for everyone,” he said on Gambian state
Saikou Jammeh in Banjul and William Branigin in Washington contributed to this report.