Jammeh Clamps Down On Media In The Gambia

Incumbent Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh
Incumbent Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

The authorities in The Gambia have shut down a radio station known for its criticism of President Yahya Jammeh.

Head of the Gambia Press Union, Emil Touray, said that Intelligence agents ordered Teranga FM’s closure without giving reasons.

This is the first sign of a crackdown on the media since Jammeh rejected defeat in the  December presidential election.

Jammeh first seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

He initially conceded defeat to his opponent, Adama Barrow, but then launched court action to annul the result, saying the poll was marred by irregularities.

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The electoral commission has insisted that the poll was free and fair.

A staff member of the radio station, Teranga FM, told journalists on condition of anonymity that four Gambian National Intelligence Agency operatives and a police officer visited the station and demanded its closure.

There has been no official comment from the government.

The 2016 Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index ranked the Gambia 145 out of 180 countries, adding that there was “a climate of terror around anything remotely to do with journalism” in the country.

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The UN and West African regional body, ECOWAS, have urged Jammeh to respect the will of the people and step down when his term ends.

Ecowas officials say that neighbouring Senegal’s troops are ready to intervene if he refuses to hand power to Barrow on 19 January.

But Jammeh said that any deployment would be an “act of war”.

Barrow caused a major upset by defeating Jammeh by 43.3% to 39.6%.

The Gambia has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965.

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