Thursday, January 19

Thursday, January 19

Tensions rise in Gambia as Pres. Jammeh declares state of emergency and former VW chief faces German parliament

TENSIONS RISE IN GAMBIA

Photo: AFP

Photo: AFP

Gambia’s Adama Barrow was supposed to assume office on Thursday, but no longer.

Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh, who’s ruled Gambia for 22 years, declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, citing ‘foreign interference’ in the Dec. 1 election he lost. On Wednesday, the country’s parliament extended the state of emergency and Jammeh’s presidential term by 90 days.

Previously, Adama Barrow insisted he’d go ahead with his inauguration ceremony regardless of the incumbent president’s intransigence, but Wednesday’s developments make this unlikely.

Jammeh’s refusal to stand aside is concerning for the country of 1.9 million. West African bloc ECOWAS has repeatedly called for the president to resign to head off political violence. On Wednesday, it appeared regional powers had begun ratcheting up the pressure.

Nigeria confirmed it had put hundreds of troops on standby and sent a warship towards Gambia for a “training” exercise. The US says it backs the ECOWAS position and refused to rule out providing military and logistical support to any potential regional intervention.

Thousands of tourists and non-essential business people have begun evacuating to neighbouring Senegal in recent days, as have many Gambians. If political protests break out in the coming days, expect violence to flare in the self-styled “smiling coast of Africa”.

FORMER VOLKSWAGEN CEO FACES PARLIAMENTARY INQUIRY

Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg

Michele Tantussi/Bloomberg

Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn will be grilled by a German parliamentary committee in Berlin on Thursday. At issue will be whether the government and regulators were complicit in concealing the carmaker’s manipulation of emissions data.

From 2006 to 2016, VW installed software in 11 million diesel vehicles that made their vehicles seem cleaner in emissions tests. News of this misconduct broke in September 2015, when emissions were revealed to exceed the legal limit by up to 40 times.

Last week, VW agreed to pay $4.3 billion to the US government for fraud, obstruction of justice and violation of pollution laws. Six former VW executives have been indicted on criminal charges.

On March 8, Chancellor Angela Merkel will also appear for questioning before the committee. If it finds the government and regulators were involved in covering up VW’s misconduct, investigators in the US and other affected markets may pursue charges against the German government.