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Timeline: Gambia in crisis

Rebecca Ritters
January 19, 2017

Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh is due to step down on December 19th. But he has vowed to stay on, despite losing elections to Adama Barrow last December. Here's our timeline of events leading to today's standoff.

Yahya Jammeh walking in the middle of a group of soldiers in 2006
President Jammeh took over power in 1994Image: picture-alliance/AP/Rebecca Blackwell

Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh once vowed to rule The Gambia 'for a billion years.' But after 22 years in power, he was defeated in presidential elections last December. His successor, Adama Barrow, is due to be inaugurated today. But Jammeh, who initially accepted the election results, is refusing to step down.


1965: The Gambia gains independence from Britain. Dawda Jawara bcomes the first prime minister. It joins the Commonwealth of Nations. Queen Elizabeth II remains the head of state.

1970: The Gambia becomes a republic following a referendum. Prime Minister Dawda Jawara is elected president, replacing Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state.

Jammeh's rise to power

1994: Lieutenant Yahya Jammeh overthrows President Jawara.

1996: Jammeh is elected president.

2001: President Jammeh wins a second term of office in largely peaceful elections. Foreign officials deemed the election free and fair.

2006: A coup attempt against President Jammeh is reportedly thwarted.

2006: President Jammeh wins a third term.

2011: President Jammeh wins a fourth term. The elections are widely criticized

Political crisis in The Gambia


December 1: President Jammeh loses to opposition candidate Adama Barrow in local elections. Jammeh concedes defeat and says he will not challenge the outcome of the elections.

More than 40 opposition politicians are freed from prison.

December 5: The country's electoral commission revises the results after irregularities during counting are reported in one area. The recount does not affect the outcome of the elections, but Barrow's lead narrows from 9% to 4%.

December 9: Jammeh changes his mind and announces that he no longer accepts the election results, citing electoral "abnormalities." He lodges a complaint with the Supreme Court in an attempt to overturn the result.

The US and Senegal condemn his announcement. The African Union calls for a "peaceful and orderly transition of power."

The UN Security Council demands Jammeh steps down.

Leaders from the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, are sent to The Gambia to urge the president to accept the result, but he refuses.


January 4: The Gambia's army chief reaffirms his loyalty to Jammeh.

January 9: Jammeh fires 12 ambassadors after they called on him to step aside. Several ministers have since been fired or resigned.

January 13: The African Union urges Jammeh to step down from power peacefully, warning it will not recognize him as head of state as of 19 January.

Thousands of Gambians begin fleeing into neighboring Senegal to escape rising tensions.

January 17: Jammeh declares a state of emergency, saying foreign powers had created an "unwarranted hostile atmosphere, threatening the sovereignty, peace, security and stability of the country."

January 18: The Senegalese army says it is ready to intervene in The Gambia if there is no solution to the crisis.

January 19: President-elect Barrow due to be inaugurated. Barrow announces on Twitter that the inauguration will take place at the Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.