GAMBIA: Electoral Commission Chief goes into Exile Following Death Threats

BANJUL JANUARY 3, 2017 (CISA) – Alieu Momar Njai, Chairman of Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has reportedly fled the country following death threats.

According to AfricaNews, Njai’s family confirmed that he was no longer in the country but would also not disclose his location.

He had earlier vowed to defend the validity of the election results he declared on December 2 last year after President Yahya Jammeh’s questioned its validity, after losing to opposition coalition candidate, Adama Barrow.

Njai said the ruling party was likely to lose any poll petition arising from the elections saying: “If it goes to court, we can prove every vote cast. The election results were correct, nothing will change that.”

He was forced out of his office by security officials on December 13 after the electoral offices were seized on the day that Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation was meeting with Jammeh and Barrow in Banjul. No reasons were given at the time.

The premises were however vacated by the security recently with the government ordering employees of the IEC to go back to work.

They (government) cited an imminent plot to burn down the building as reason for the ‘occupation.’

President Jammeh’s refusal of the results was largely based on IEC’s amendment of declared results five days after Barrow had been announced as president-elect.

Of the two sets of results, the earlier one announced 24 hours after the polls showed a wide gap between Jammeh and Barrow. An amended one however showed a closer margin between the two.

Meanwhile President Jammeh has accused ECOWAS of declaring war, after it said it was putting forces on alert in case he refused to step down at the end of his mandate on January 19.

The Gambian leader who initially conceded defeat in the December 1 2016 election, before changing his mind days later has in a New Year’s speech broadcast on state TV vowed to stay in power and promised “to defend Gambia against any outside aggression.”

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