The Gambia. In January, the EU, which is Gambia’s largest donor, presented 17 reforms which it urged the Gambian government to implement. This included, among other things, not executing prisoners, but maintaining the moratorium on executions that previously applied. The Gambia received harsh criticism from the outside world in 2012 when nine executed people were executed. Other demands were to withdraw the harsh media laws that were introduced, open the independent radio stations and newspapers closed by the authorities, end with arbitrary arrests of journalists and human rights activists, and allow diplomats to visit prisons.
According to Countryaah, the EU requested a meeting with the Gambian government to discuss the issues, but its president Yahya Jammeh rejected the demands. He said that the EU was trying to create a puppet government in the Gambia, but that the country would not allow itself to be colonized by the EU once again. On January 12, thousands of Gambians participated in a demonstration against the EU and in support of Jammeh in the capital Banjul. In this situation, the EU interrupted the political dialogue with the Gambia, but resumed it in July.
In February, Jammeh announced that all public servants would be free on Fridays to, as he said, be able to devote themselves to “prayer, social activities and agriculture”. On the Friday they will work on other weekdays. The leave also applies to schoolchildren, who should instead go to school on Saturdays. The majority of Gambia’s population is Muslims, but the most important prayer day of Muslims on Friday has not previously been unemployed as it is in most other Muslim countries.
Six of the country’s seven opposition parties boycotted the municipal elections in April. In addition to the ruling APRC (Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Reconstruction), some independent candidates and the opposition party NRP (National Reconciliation Party) participated, which told the media that by participating they wanted to fight political repression.
During the summer, Jammeh dismissed several of his ministers, including Justice Minister Lamin Jobarteh, who was also arrested on suspicion of corruption along with another government representative. Jammeh often re-furnishes in the government and handles important areas such as the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
In October, the government decided that the Gambia should leave the Commonwealth with immediate effect. In a statement, the government said the country did not want to be a member of a “neo-colonial institution”. The Commonwealth, of which the Gambia has been a member for 48 years, is an association of over 50 countries, most of which are former British colonies. According to government sources, the decision may have been made because the Commonwealth proposed that the Gambia should appoint commissions to safeguard human rights and fight corruption.