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Gambian President Yahya Jammeh arriving at a security summit, Abuja, Nigeria, Feb. 27, 2014 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Gambia Protests and Crackdown Set the Stage for Months of Turmoil

Friday, May 13, 2016

The series of protests that have gripped parts of Gambia since mid-April present a serious political test for longtime President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the tiny West African state since seizing power in a bloodless coup nearly 22 years ago. The protests come at a time when the Gambian government faces international censure for alleged human rights violations, amid reports of security forces employing heavy-handed tactics against demonstrators. With a deteriorating fiscal situation and a presidential election scheduled for December, Gambia could find itself mired in turmoil for months to come.

Yet despite Jammeh’s precarious position, the Gambian strongman is unlikely to see his hold on power crumble in the immediate future. He still appears to enjoy the support of Gambia’s security apparatus and elements of Gambian society. The absence of a clear alternative to Jammeh within the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) reduces the possibility of a successful palace coup. What’s more, his political opponents remain poorly placed to bring down Jammeh, either via street protests or the ballot box. ...

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