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Commonwealth Secretary-General supports peaceful transfer of power in The Gambia

17 December 2016

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has pledged to support the democratic transfer of authority in The Gambia following the country’s recent elections.

Speaking to the President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma, Secretary-General Scotland expressed her full support for the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) efforts to ensure a peaceful transition of government after Mr Adama Barrow was elected president on 1 December.

President Koroma, along with the leaders of Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia, are in crisis talks with President Yahya Jammeh, who had initially accepted defeat to Mr Barrow, but later changed his mind. 

Mr Jammeh, who was in power for 22 years, is questioning the validity of the count after amendments to the results. The Gambian electoral commission has said the outcome has not been affected by the change. The Secretary-General underscored the need for the independence of the Electoral Commission to be respected and upheld by both the leaders and the military.

The Secretary-General said, “I praise and stand behind the efforts of ECOWAS and these four leaders, three of whom are Commonwealth members. I believe they are driven by their passion for the Commonwealth values of democracy, peace, tolerance, respect for diversity and of differing views.

“Today, I assured President Koroma of the Commonwealth’s determination to support the democratic transition of authority in The Gambia in any way possible, including through technical assistance to the new government.”   

The Secretary-General further remarked, “I want to once again express my hope that The Gambia will apply to re-join the Commonwealth under the new democratically-elected president, who has already committed his government to pursuing reconciliation among all Gambians.”