Is turning away from dictatorship really possible or is it just a distorted fabrication of a well thought out fantasy? As it turns out that fantasy turned into a reality for the small West African nation of The Gambia.
For twenty two years The Gambia had been ruled by dictator Yahya Jemmeh who came to power through a military coup in 1994. During that time Jemmeh’s regime has been accused of suppressing freedom of expression/assembly and carrying out extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, unlawful detentions, and arbitrary arrests.
After many years of rigged elections in Jemmeh’s favor, presidential candidate Adama Barrow defeated the dictator December 2016 and became The Gambia’s freely elected president January 2017. The defeat sent shock waves throughout Africa putting many long time rulers on notice that the possibility of democratic change can be a reality and the need for a lifetime strongman to be a thing of the past.
Jemmeh finally accepted defeat and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea and may eventually be brought to justice for his alleged human rights abuses while in power. Let the election in The Gambia be a testament and set the standard for all countries under dictatorship to follow. Bringing down dictators is not an easy task, but what happened in The Gambia does make the notion of regime change possible when the international community comes together to put pressure on a dictator to step down or endure the consequences.