On December 1st in the West African country of Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh lost the election to the leader of his opposition, Adama Barrow. The president-elect is supposed to step into power on January 19th, however Jammeh reversed his initial concession of defeat and sued to nullify the election result.
The election challenge was supposed to be heard by a panel of foreign judges, which Gambia requires due to its lack of trained professionals, on January 10th. However, the judges from Nigeria and Sierra Leone did not make it to the hearing due to the “insistence” of Jammeh. The current President has put pressure on his allies in the West African region to prolong the hearing and keep himself in power until some deal, which probably includes amnesty, is reached with Barrow.With backing from major players like the UN and the US, however, it is expected that Barrow will not back down and will demand inauguration on the 19th.
No matter the result of this contested election, this situation brings up a crucial question in foreign relations and US involvement in international affairs. Firstly, to what extent should the US get involved? Due to our involvement in these nations in the past, particularly our debt to West Africa from centuries of enslaving the region’s people, it is in part our obligation to ensure that Gambia has the resources and support to secure peaceful transitions of power. So far, the US has done just that. However, if there is violent resistance from Jammeh and his forces, should the US get more involved? On one hand, the US has the power to do so and can oversee that Barrow is given the authority the people have vested in him. As of yet, Gambia has been very open to foreign aid from both the US and other neighboring nations. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that Barrow will not be as corrupt, or more, than Jammeh.
The stance that the article takes on this issue is vague, although there is a sense that the author prefers the US to provide aid from a distance. Right now, the Guardians of Freedom agree that the US should let Gambia and its neighboring countries try to resolve the issue. If the situation becomes violent, and hopefully it will not, then the US can collaborate with other major forces like the UN in providing support for the people-backed Barrow. As always, we believe in supporting those who strive towards justice, be it the opposition or the government.