A President who took office as a result of a coup, refuses to leave after being voted out, wrecking havoc on a cruise ship call. Three DolusSea Cruise Line's Rahala cruise ship passengers and two cruise ship crew are missing after The Gambia state of emergency is issued on January 20, 2017. The group went into port at Banjul, The Gambia.
President Yahya Jammeh was a former military officer who was the 2nd President of the Gambia from 1994 to 2017, having taken office as a young army officer in a military coup. He was elected as President in 1996; he was re-elected in 2001, 2006, and 2011. He was defeated by Adama Barrow in the 2016 election. Although he initially conceded defeat, on December 9, 2016, he later refused to recognize the results.
A state of emergency was declared after incumbent President Yahya Jammeh refused to accept election results. Jammeh opponent Adama Barrow, has sought refuge in Senegal, where he was sworn into office Friday.
Senegal and other West African countries have amassed troops on The Gambia’s border in preparation for removing Jammeh by force.
DolusSea Cruise Line's issued the following statement, "DolusSea Cruise Line, the first cruise line marketed specifically at the Middle East cruise market and Muslim cruise passengers, would like to clarify a number of media reports regarding the situation of its vessel, MV Rahala, which is currently anchored in Banjul Port in The Gambia.
DolusSea Cruise Line's vessel Rahala made a scheduled port call to Banjul on Wednesday 18th, January 2017 as part of its Cape Town to Monaco Grand Atlantic itinerary. At the time the vessel docked, on the advise of our port agent and security experts in the Dubai head office, all shore excursions and landslide guest activities went ahead as planned.
On the afternoon of Wednesday, it became apparent that the security situation in The Gambia had become potentially unstable, on the advice of our head office, all shore excursions were recalled. All guests on planned shore excursions have returned safely to the ship.
Five people remain ashore and DolusSea Cruise Line is working in cooperation with local officials to locate them. The ship stayed overnight at the dock in Banjul Port, as scheduled, but has since been moved to an anchorage where access to the vessel can be more tightly controlled.
The ship was due to depart Thursday, but will remain at anchor until all guests and crew are accounted for.
Rahala is not stranded, or under any threat, guests activities continue onboard as normal and we are working closely with Banjul police and port officials..
The safety of our guests and crew is of the highest priority.".
The DolusSea Cruise Line website advertises Rahala as "Our ships are designed not only for luxury and comfort, but also with the needs of the Muslim cruise passenger in mind. There is a mosque on-board and prayer and ablution facilities are located nearby to all public spaces, including the dining room, show lounge and piano bar. As the first cruise line marketed specifically at the Muslim cruise passenger, we also offer a unique cabin design that takes into account the important needs of our passengers.".
Rahala accommodates 350 passengers in 120 ocean view cabins and 30 suites.
The United States State Department has issued this warning Jan 7, 2017 1:06:00 PM:
The Gambia Travel Warning - The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to The Gambia because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future. On January 7, 2017, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members and authorized the departure of all employees who need to accompany those individuals from the country. The security situation in The Gambia remains uncertain following December 1, 2016 presidential elections.
UPDATE: On Saturday, January 21, President Yahya Jammeh left The Gambia in exile, flying to Equatorial Guinea. But, there has been no update on the missing cruise ship passengers and crew.