ECOWAS STANDBY FORCE AND DEMOCRATIC CONSOLIDATION IN GAMBIA CLEANSING THE SIT TIGHT SYNDROME OF WEST AFRICAN LEADERS

Timothy Ubelejit Nte (Ph.D)

Abstract


Perilous political crisis tilting towards a full-blown conflict ravaged the Gambia very recently when President Yahya Jammeh decided to hold onto power after suffering defeat in the December 1, 2016 election. ECOWAS mobilised its Standby Force and waded into the crisis and their intervention pacified the conflict with high accolades. The research questions are: (1) What is the background of the sit-tight syndrome of Jammeh and other African leaders (2) What role did the ECOWAS Standby Force play in resolving the Gambian political crisis (3) How is the inauguration of Barrow a consolidation on democracy in West Africa. The qualitative research methodology was adopted for the study. The study is guided by the Democratic Peace theoretical framework. The study concludes that Yahya Jammeh relinquished power and went into exile because of the intervention by the ECOWAS Standby Force. The measures he took to annul the election may have plunged Gambia into a full-blown civil war apart from truncating democracy. A blend of carrot and stick diplomacy of ECOWAS which led to the successful swearing-in of Adama Barrow on 19th January 2017 is a recipe to cleanse sit-tight African leaders to concede defeat in the polls and consolidate democracy. The article recommends that sit-tight African leaders should learn from the examples of Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria whose former leaders willingly and graciously conceded defeat to opposition leaders.


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