ECOWAS AND THE MANAGEMENT OF THE POST-2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORAL CONFLICT IN GAMBIAAbstract:
This study explores the role of ECOWA in the management of the post-2016 presidential electoral conflict in Gambia. The 2016 election was surprisingly won by the leader of an opposition coalition; Adama Barrow. Barrow defeated Yayha Jammeh, who had already won consecutively four previous presidential elections. This marked the terminal point of Jammeh’s 20-years rule of Gambia, marred with human rights abuses. Jammeh initially conceded defeat but later changed his mind after a week, thus triggering a major political conflict. For months, he made incessant desperate attempts to cling to power, before finally leaving the country on 21 January 2017, when it appeared he would be removed by force. Indeed, different stakeholders including the ECOWAS played a vital role for ensuring peace in Gambia. In this connection, this study discusses exclusively the roles of ECOWAS in mitigating the conflict under consideration. With extant literature and oral sources backed with the realist conflict theory, the paper traces the historical foundations of the ECOWAS and electoral conflict in Gambia. It emphasizes the roles the organization has played in mitigating the post-2016 electoral conflict in the Country. The study reveals that ECOWAS was able to restore civil rule and peace in the country by threatening the use of force. ECOWAS enjoyed the support of both African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN). The two organizations gave ECOWAS the much needed support. This conflict resolution in the Gambia was termed the African solution to African problems. Hence this study recommends among others that ECOWAS should continue to act as the regional defender because the numerous conflicts in the region are indeed African problems and should therefore be tackled by Africans themselves.