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1.1 Background of the Study
Presidential elections were held in Gambia on 1 December, 2016. The incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, appeared confident of securing a fifth term in office. An army Lieutenant who became President of the Gambia after ceasing power in a bloodless coup d’état on 22 July 1994, President Jammeh was a quintessential African President-for-life. Behind a façade of regular presidential and parliamentary elections, President Jammeh maintained control of Gambia through the tried-and-tested techniques of authoritarianism. Intimidation of political opponents, harassment of journalists, pay-offs to loyalists, electoral fraud and gerrymandering, and the control of civil society by an overbearing security apparatus ensured Yahya Jammeh’s continued grip on power.
The 2016 election was supposed to be no different. Dissidents and opposition leaders were threatened, and at times imprisoned and tortured, and the State media actively campaigned for President Jammeh. This led observers to dismiss the possibility that the election would be free and fair. Citing these irregularities, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced that it would not participate in observing the election, while the European Union was denied entry to the country, despite having had initial indications that it would be allowed to monitor the election. This left a small contingent of African Union (AU) observers as the only foreign actor overseeing the election.
Casting their votes using marbles instead of paper ballots, 8 Gambians delivered a stunning result. After twenty-two years in office, Yahya Jammeh was defeated by Adama Barrow, a real-estate agent, who succeeded in rallying the opposition parties around his candidacy. The final tally gave Barrow 227,708 votes to Jammeh’s 208,487, while a third-party candidate, Mamma Kandeh, received 89,768 votes.
Unexpectedly for a ruler whose eccentricities earned him the honorific of being dubbed West Africa’s Gaddafi, Yahya Jammeh conceded the election. One week later, however, in an equally unexpected volte-face, Yahya Jammeh announced his ‘total rejection’ of the results. Citing ‘serious and unacceptable abnormalities’, Yahya Jammeh annulled the elections and called for holding new elections under the supervision of an independent electoral commission. One explanation for Jammeh’s ostensibly erratic behavior is that he was blindsided by his electoral loss and gracefully conceded defeat as a tactical maneuver to buy precious time to find a solution to his predicament, and then decided to call for a revote in a bid to cling to power or to negotiate a safe exit from the country to avoid prosecution over allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
The essence of this study is therefore to carry out an empirical analysis of ECOWAS intervention and democraticpation in West Africa Sub-Region. A study of Gambia 2016 general elections.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Prior to 1st December, 2016, the democracy was found wanting in the administrative strategy of Gambia. Since 1994, the Gambia Diaspora as a social movement has carried out and sustained anti-Jammeh mobilization through several advocacy organizations, online media houses, and networks created over the years to ‘restore democracy’ in Gambia. They have gone to a great length in their efforts to influence regime change in Gambia both through non-violent and ‘violent’ means. Over 20 years, they have carried out several political activities including mass mobilization for demonstrations, issuing of press releases, lobbying transnational Non- governmental organizations (NGO) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch; and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGO) such as the EU, ECOWAS, AU, United Nations (UN); and states such as the US, UK, Norway. They have also used military efforts to oust the dictatorship of Jammeh and allegedly sponsored mass protest for electoral reform in the period leading up to the 2016 elections. These efforts were not effective prior to the intervention of ECOWAS. However, ECOWAS intervention and restoration of democracy in Gambia has not received much attention from researchers and international relations experts. This is the motivation of this study.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The primary purpose of this study is to carry out an empirical of ECOWAS intervention and democracy in West Africa sub-region with particular reference to Gambia 2016 general elections. This study will also go ahead to provide recommendations based on the findings of the study.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The importance of carrying out a study on ECOWAS intervention in Gambia 2016 general presidential election cannot be overemphasized. This study will be of great significance to the government of African countries. This study will also be of a significant importance to researchers, students and the general public. Finally, this study will be an addition to the existing stock of knowledge on the concept under study.
1.5 Methodology, Sources, and Organization of the Study
Methodology is the technique and procedure used in carrying out research. This explains the structural framework of the research; dealing with data generation, collection and analysis. This approach ensures that data gathered from secondary sources (such as books, journals, internet material and so on) are in line with the area of study. This study will be pursued primarily from an explanatory approach based on existing literature, including information and data gathered within and outside Gambia. In as much as qualitative method would be applied in the collation and analysis of available data, eclectic and holistic methods may not be divorced. The organization of study is the systematic arrangement of this work chapter by chapter. Chapter one serves as an introduction to the study. It contains the background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose and significance of the study, scope and limitations of the study, theoretical framework and literature review.
Chapter two dwelt on Gambia and its people. It contains information about pre and post-colonial presidential elections in Gambia.
Chapter three considered the conceptual analysis and its accompanying view point. It contains the various concepts of democracy, elections and intervention of external bodies.
Chapter four focused on the specific presidential elections in Gambia (2016-2017).
In chapter five which forms the base of the project work, the challenges and impact of ECOWAS intervention in Gambia was considered. Finally, a summary of the whole work was made, creating ample opportunity to draw conclusions and veritable recommendations which occupied chapter six.
1.6 Scope and Limitations of the Study
The focus of this research is to examine the intervention of democratization of ECOWAS in West African sub-region with a particular focus on Gambia 2016 general presidential elections.
Certain difficulties were encountered during this research work. Finance posed a hindrance, which comprised my visits to certain important sites, offices and accomplishing interview session with some persons, whose inputs would have gone a long way in enriching this study. Detailed candor and equanimity were often invoked to good effect, when appointments and visits exposed the researcher to unwilling officials.
Finally, data from internet, the print and audio-visual information highways, sometimes appear sensational and conflicting, more so when statistical casualty figures are involved.
1.7 Theoretical Framework
This project is anchored on the postulations of political realism as a framework of analysis. Political realism is one of the major theories of International relations which emphasize the constraints imposed on politics by the nature of human beings, whom they consider egoistic, and by the absence of an international government to control all members of the international community. Together, the egoistic nature of man and the absence of a world government contribute to a conflict-based paradigm of international relations, in which the key actors are states, in which power and security become the main issues, and in which there is little place for morality. Human nature is a starting point for classical political realism. Realists view human beings as inherently egoistic and self-interested to the extent that self-interest overcomes moral principles. Human beings don’t do things to be nice; they do things because it serves some sort of selfish need. Political realism attempts to explain the relations among and between states in terms of power. Power is defined in various ways but in the context of international relations, power is basically the capability of one state or a non state actor to make another state do something it would not otherwise do or to stop it from doing something it wants to do.
1.8 Literature Review
In the following literature, sincere efforts are made to examine same existing works related to the subject matter of this study. This helps the researcher to articulate existing knowledge on the subject matter. They help also in highlighting certain inadequacies and short comings of the works in relation to the subject matter of the current study and the gaps that needed to be filled.
Christof (2017) carried out a research on ECOWAS and the restoration of democracy in Gambia. In the analysis he asserts that following the disputed December 2016 presidential elections in The Gambia, ECOWAS managed to “restore democracy” in the country by using the threat of force, but without any use of direct physical violence. Both the African Union and the United Nations Security Council backed ECOWAS, which also gave ECOWAS legitimacy, for what was essentially ECOWAS’s policy, and indeed an African solution to African problems. Only when the scenario of military invasion became credible did the Gambian regime accept the defeat. Four main factors explain the behaviour of ECOWAS and its success: ECOWAS had a clear legal mandate to threaten the use of force in order to protect democracy in one of its member states; there was consensus that ECOWAS forces could have coped with the relatively small Gambian army; the Gambian president could not rely on friends among his regional peers or some powerful ally from outside Africa; and regional leaders such as Nigeria and Senegal made a credible commitment to the regional intervention. While the intervention was a victory for pro-democratic activist regionalism, the specific West African conditions make a diffusion of the model to other parts of Africa unlikely.
Diallo (2005) explains, “the crumbling away of the State and the bankruptcy of governance mechanisms led to the growth and dispersal of armed participants, with soldiers, dissidents, militias, rebels and/or mercenaries fighting with legal armed forces for political power”. It was in reaction to these developments that ECOWAS began to develop a framework, first, for conflict management, and then for conflict prevention, with standards for preventing unconstitutional changes of government and promoting governance, the rule of law, and human rights.
Ifeanyi and Ejike (2017) examined the Gambian case in which the former president Yahya Jammeh refused to relinquish power after completing his tenure of office even when he was trounced in the Gambian 2016 presidential election by Adama Barrow. Gambia would have been thrown into a bloody civil war if not for the timely intervention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which remained resolute to prevent him from perpetuating himself in office. Employing political realism as a framework for analysis, the paper examines sit-tightism in Gambia and the strategies and tactics employed by the Economic Community of West African States to prevent it. The paper also examines the effect of this phenomenon on the development of the country. The study reveals that ECOWAS has shown the world and also sent signal to over ambitious presidents in the sub region that it is prepared to fight sit-tight leaders in the sub region. The paper recommends among other things democratic consciousness and political vigilantism among the people and an entrenched interest by non-state actors like the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to fight sit-tight leaders in all African countries as a way of salvaging African democracy from over ambitious African presidents.
Odobo (2017) carried out a research on analysis of ECOWAS institutional framework for conflict management. The paper posits that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has evolved conflict management and security framework through which it responds to the myriads of socio-political crisis in the sub-region. The paper assessed the ECOWAS mechanisms for conflict management vis-à-vis the challenges facing the region. It begins by looking at the nature of conflict in West Africa; and then the evolution of ECOWAS conflict management framework. Using content analysis, the paper argues that ECOWAS has evolved a comprehensive conflict management and security framework and has made significant achievements in conflict management in the West African sub-region. It however, recommends peace building efforts that address poverty, human rights abuses and election fraud as well as more synergy and political will to handle religious extremism in the sub-region.
Aja and Onyemaechi (2017) carried out a research on democratic consolidation in Africa and the practice of non-indifference by ECOWAS: Lessons from the Gambian Reversed Victory. The paper argued that the outcome of the Gambian democratic election was determined more by the logic of international practice of the principles of non-indifference than the dictates of the Gambian society. Democratic patterns are gradually undergoing transformation in Africa, particularly with the growing concern of the international community. A case in point was the outcome of the Gambian democratic election on December 1, 2016 whose victory was credited to the President-elect Adama Barro. Even when the seating President Yahya Jammeh acknowledged the transparency of the election process by congratulating his victorious opponent Barro, a day after, he reversed the victory. Reversal of the electoral victory attracted international condemnation particularly from EOWAS member-states. Rather than deterred by the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of The Gambia, Nigeria-led ECOWAS was motivated more by concern for possible fear of humanitarian fallouts from Jammeh’s act to adopt the principle of non-indifference to the reversed victory. The broad objective is to underscore the role of international community in democratic transformation in Africa. The specific objective is to demonstrate that The Gambian reverse victory was an abuse of settled principles, norms and values for democratic consolidation and that the principle of non-indifference by the ECOWAS was to save The Gambian society from humanitarian crisis that might have arisen in the post-reversed victory. This paper is anchored on global interconnectivity as a theoretical force.
Opanike (2015) is of the view that when compared to other regional arrangements on the African continents, ECOWAS is arguably the most advanced, although still miles far from the achievements of its European Union counterpart. He considers the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement as very germane to the overall objective of the ECOWAS integration policies; this is so because, there cannot be any genuine integration if free movement of the community citizens who are considered as agents of integration is hampered. Thus, the Protocol is at the heart of the organizations’ objective. Realizing that conflict and insecurity are major obstacles to economic development, ECOWAS developed its main conflict prevention and management frameworks and tools, namely ‘the Protocol on the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention; Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security (1999) and the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (2001). Together these formed the basis for the ECOWAS Conflict and Prevention Framework (John and Adriana, 2015).