Gambia’s electoral commission chairman has fled the country because he received threats after declaring President Yahya Jammeh the loser of a December 1, 2016 election, a family member and a colleague said on Tuesday.
It was not known where Alieu Momar Njai might have gone a little over two weeks before the planned inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow.
Njai declared Barrow had won the vote a day after the election and Jammeh initially accepted defeat. But a week later the veteran leader who first seized power in a coup said he would not step down – a change of heart that drew international condemnation.
West African forces from the ECOWAS regional bloc have been put on alert, which raises the possibility of military intervention. Jammeh called that decision a “declaration of war”.
Over the weekend, Gambian security agents closed three private radio stations near the capital, Banjul, making it harder for the incoming government to communicate with its supporters and deepening political tensions.
Barrow’s victory was seen as an unexpected triumph for democracy in Gambia, which gained independence from Britain in 1965 but has since had only two presidents.