A critical hearing in a Gambian court, Colombia holds talks with the ELN and Barack Obama gives his farewell speech.
CRITICAL HEARING IN THE GAMBIA
Gambia’s Supreme Court will begin hearing a case brought by President Yahya Jammeh on Tuesday over his loss to rival Adama Barrow in a Dec. 1 election.
Jammeh, who’s been in power for 22 years, initially shocked the world by accepting defeat only to change his mind a week later and order the electoral commission’s headquarters to be seized.
In court, Mr Jammeh will allege that voting irregularities mean Adama Barrow was not duly elected. For his part, Barrow insists he’ll move ahead with inauguration proceedings slated for Jan. 19. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Jammeh is not willing to cede power, setting the stage for a potentially violent showdown.
As the incumbent, Jammeh is well placed to shore up his support among the country’s security apparatus, and all signs indicate he has spent the past weeks doing just this. Meanwhile, West Africa’s regional bloc, ECOWAS, has attempted to mediate the dispute to little avail.
Tuesday’s hearing is critical. If Jammeh is successful, fresh elections will be held. If not and the incumbent refuses the step aside, regional (and global) powers will have to decide whether to intervene or stand by as a dictator clings to power.
COLOMBIA AND ELN TALKS SCHEDULED TO RESUME
Peace talks between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) – a left-wing guerrilla group – are scheduled to resume in Quito on Tuesday.
Since the ELN was founded in 1964, conflict in Colombia has killed more than 260,000. In 2016, the Colombian government finalised a historic peace accord with the FARC rebels. President Santos is now seeking to make peace with the smaller, yet still dangerous ELN.
Talks were initially scheduled to begin in May 2016 but were repeatedly delayed. Most recently, negotiations were delayed in October after the government insisted the group release its last hostage before the commencement of any deal making.
Indeed, there is some doubt about whether Tuesday’s meeting will go ahead. Trust is running low and the ELN is still holding its hostage captive. If it does happen, Tuesday’s talks will aim to re-establish a working relationship and lay the groundwork for further discussions later in the year.
OBAMA GIVES FAREWELL SPEECH
US President Barack Obama will give his farewell speech in Chicago on Tuesday, wrapping up 8 years in office. Mr Obama formally ends his term on Jan. 20, when President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated in Washington DC.
Obama will undoubtedly use his final official speech to look back on what he considers his greatest achievements – most notably his healthcare reforms, steady economic stewardship, and historic deals with both Cuba and Iran.
However, Mr Trump has cast a shadow over each one of these developments, promising to undo each of them in his own unique way.
For his part, President Obama has said he will not give a running commentary of President Trump’s tenure, but has hinted at a break with tradition by saying he will speak up on issues that raise “core questions” of American values.
While Tuesday’s speech will be a time for reflection, it also marks the beginning of what could be a historically turbulent American political transition.