Gambia’s capital city, Banjul, has rapidly turned into a ghost town, hours ahead of the end of term of incumbent President Yahya Jammeh and swearing in of President-elect Adama Barrow on January 19th.
Several thousand people, mainly children and mothers have so far crossed into Senegal in the last ten days to escape growing tension over the results of last month’s presidential election.
Meanwhile, hours before the D-day, more people continue to flee the country to seek refuge in Senegal’s Southern region of Cassamance and others to the capital Dakar and other neighbouring border Senegal villages and towns like Kaolack.
Banjul, the capital that used to be busy during day and night with high traffic now turns ghost particularly after outgoing President Yahya Jammeh declared a ninety days State of Emergency on Tuesday less than 48 hours before his mandate ends on January 19th and to hand over power to President-elect Adama Barrow.
Like in Banjul, Serrekunda, the largest business center through to towns like Bakau have also turn ghost as stillness fell upon the towns, not even the sound of traffic. The declaration immediately robbed people off their peace of mind.
According to reports, even before midnight, the busiest business center, Kairaba Avenue was empty. The high class restaurants that dotted the avenue were all closed. All the shops closed and traffic at standstill. There was also no pedestrian. The bustling avenue was enveloped in complete quietness and silence was omnipresent.
While some people have decided to stay in The Gambia, many have been sending their children to Senegal as a precautionary measure amid the political impasse, fearing potential unrest
The United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) teams report seeing buses filled with children, accompanied by women, cross the border,” said Liz Ahua, the regional representative for the UN Refugee Agency in Dakar.
Gambia’s longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh lost to rival Adama Barrow in the country’s December 1 election. After initially conceding defeat, Jammeh reversed his decision prompting international condemnation.
Despite his continued defiance, Mr Jammeh has almost all his Cabinet ministers resigning as his mandate ends. The minister that resigned are Information Minister Sheriff Bojang, then followed by the Sports minister Alieu Jammeh, Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, the Minister of Foreign Affair; Abdou Kolley, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and Abdou Jobe, Minister of Trade, Pa Ousman Jarju, Minister of the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources and Omar Sey, Minister of Health and Abubakar Senghore, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.