Putting together a rough draft of my research definitely caused me to spend more time looking for the information I was still missing, and re-read some of my older pieces in order to locate any information I had previously been missing. As my original research was based on the question of whether or not Gambia had been affected by the contagion effect in the most recent elections, I took a second look at Abdoulaye Saine’s “The Gambia’s ‘Elected Autocrat Poverty, Peripherality, and Political Instability,’ 1994-2006,” in which Saine argues that Jammeh’s initial support after his bloodless coup was partially due to the contagion effect, though that of the Strasser-led coup in Sierra Leone (455). It is therefore interesting to note that the contagion effect did originally occur in Gambia, though not in the form of a Senegalese effect. Furthermore, the fact that the Gambia did in fact experience the contagion effect, though much earlier in its history, allows me to conclude that my original hypothesis was incorrect, and turn to other contributing factors to explain the reason for the intervention of outside forces in upholding the recent election results.
Additionally, I was able to locate a new book, edited by S. F. Jagne, Nation-States and the Challenges of Integration in West Africa, which provides a detailed exploration of the relationship between Senegal and Gambia (finally!!). The various authors of the book do underscore the similarities in the countries’ two cultures, as well as various issues of contention, which I had previously found mentioned in a number of Gambian newspapers. The book clarified the Casamance crisis, a low-level conflict between Senegal and the Jola ethnic group, who wish to obtain independence from Senegal, partially due to their differences in religion (the majority of Senegalese are Muslim, whereas the Jola tend to identify as Christian or animist). As Jammeh had previously allowed the Jola people to come vote in Gambian elections, this no doubt contributed to some of the uneasiness between the two countries. Additionally, there is the question of a bridge which would connect the two nations (this is another topic that came up multiple times in the Gambian/Senegalese newspapers I had read). Gambia refuses to build a bridge between the two countries, arguing that in doing so, it would lose its sovereignty; meanwhile, in Senegal, this provides a huge handicap for workers, and they have often protested against the need to take ferries across. This additionally hurts the Gambian economy (and partially explains why it did so poorly), as Gambia is dependent on Senegal’s economy, not having the possibility of accessing other trade or economic partners nearby. Finally, there is the question of Senegal’s intervention in the botched 1981 elections, in which Senegal had originally interfered to get Jawara out of office, only to change its mind at the last moment and help Jawara retain his position as President.
The third important piece of evidence I was able to uncover was the reason for ECOWAS’s intervention in the 2016 election. According to Frederick Cowell (2011), in “The Impact of the ECOWAS Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy,” the body adopted the protocol in 2001, which specifically listed a “trigger mechanism” in which participating states would be suspended in the case of unconstitutional government changes, allowing ECOWAS to intervene (331). This protocol provides the reason for the body’s enforcement of the 2016 elections, and underscores the importance of international bodies in enforcing democracy.
As my original hypothesis concerning the diffusion theory is proven incorrect, the second half of my paper will discuss the reflection of other democratic theories in the case of the Gambia. In particular, I hope to call attention to the fact that the downfall of one “hybrid” regime (in my continued reading I can conclude whether this applies to Jawara’s Presidency or not) doesn’t necessarily lead to its replacement by a democratic one, and the road between the two is time-consuming and difficult. As I had previously mentioned, this additionally provides me with the opportunity of re-stating the importance of international bodies in pressuring countries to maintain certain levels of democracy, or at least democratic components. The case of the Gambia ultimately provides a perfect case study reinforcing many of the current theories regarding the democratization process within a country.