DAKAR Jan 2 Gambian security forces closed down
two private radio stations based near the capital, Banjul, the
main journalists' union said on Monday, amid an escalating
political crisis caused by President Yahya Jammeh's refusal to
accept his election defeat.
Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 coup, initially conceded
defeat to opposition rival Adama Barrow but then called for
fresh elections, drawing condemnation from local opponents and
The veteran leaders' refusal to step down has opened up the
possibility of a military intervention by West African forces
after the ECOWAS body said it was putting military forces on
alert. Jammeh called that a "declaration of war".
Teranga FM and Hilltop Radio were closed on Sunday, said
Emil Touray, head of the Gambia Press Union. Teranga's
headquarters were shut down by a police officer and four members
of the National Intelligence Agency, he said.
A government spokesman said he could not confirm the
closures. Touray said he had no further details.
It was not immediately clear why the two stations were
targeted by Jammeh, under whose 22-year authoritarian rule the
media has come under regular attack, rights campaigners say.
Teranga FM, popular for its review of newspapers in the
local wolof and mandinka languages, has been closed four times
in recent years.
The station's managing director Alagie Ceesay was arrested
in July, 2015, and charged with sedition. He was hospitalized
twice in early 2016 while still in detention, Amnesty
International said, and later fled to neighbouring Senegal.
"It is a slap in the face of the country's democratic
process," said Touray. "People will not have access to
information in this critical period of our history."
Barrow's election victory was seen as a surprising triumph
for democracy in Gambia, which gained independence from Britain
in 1965 but has since had only two presidents. But the elation
seen on the streets of Banjul in the days after Barrow's victory
was quickly extinguished by Jammeh's defiant stance.
(Editing by Richard Lough)