By Grace P, Franklin & Marshall College
Will Gambia be let down again? Will their new government, fail the nation, burrowing them into a further depression? The most recently elected Gambian president brings potential hope for his people. Adama Barrow, Gambia’s new president, promises to recreate the once autocratic government, inviting the thousands of Gambians that fled the country to return. Former president, Yahya Jammeh, refused to remove himself as president after a sudden and unexpected loss in the election. His refusal to step-down as president summoned the Nigerian government as well as other bordering African states to step-in in attempt to help. With the assistance of the surrounding countries, Jammeh agreed to a deal that forced his resignation without any penalty for his discordance to step-down previously. After his 22 autocratic reign, Jammeh stepped-down as president for once and for all.
Needless to say, the Gambian people have faced severe amounts of turmoil over the past several months and are looking for a leader to unify them as one. Barrow promised during his campaign to overturn the dictatorial programs of Jammeh. With heavy promises, many of the Gambian people optimistically believe in his campaign. Omar Nije, a 28-year-old living in Turkey wrote, “It feels like I’m being born again” in response to the new president. Many other Gambians responded in similar ways yet some express concerns with the broken economy. Essa Bokarr Sey responded, “The political situation in the Gambia is free of tyranny, but the economy has been destroyed. Gambia needs capital to avoid a financial crash. People are free but without a strong economy.” The question of whether Barrow can save the country himself or if other countries need to intervene arises. He has already requested 7,000 West African troops to stay in Gambia for six months as he rebuilds. Barrow stated that his main priority is to implement “the pillars of reform and human rights.” Yet do these pillars include radical change to the economic programs? Though the task will be difficult, it is imperative that the economy is stabilized for the country to move forward.
The head of Catholic Relief Services’ Gambia office in Banjul, Ousman Njie, stated “The United States, indeed the entire rest of world, must support the transition in Gambia. Countries not just in Africa, but around the globe, need to see the positive benefits of a change from authoritarian to democratic rule that institutes a legitimate government and respects human rights. It must be clear to all that such a government delivers not just abstract principles, but real concrete benefits. Foreign support and assistance can help that happen.” Yet is it the United States or any other country for that matter moral responsibility to financially support another suffering country? After the most recent election, in the United States, there doesn’t look like there will be much international intervention from the US over the next four years. Yet even though the US may not be able to help, Barrow should not depend on other countries financial loans to help his country out of depletion. Though the Gambians see Barrows election as a victory, which it very well is, the struggle to regain economic stability has only begun. The real victory will be to overcome the depression Jammeh has dug their country into. If Barrow can do that, then he will be able to live up to the great name the Gambians currently reign him to be.