DEADLINE | Step Down Midnight Tomorrow or Face Forceful Ejection, ECOWAS Tells Jammeh
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has given the embattled President of The Gambia, Mr. Yahya Jammeh, till midnight tomorrow to vacate office and hand over power to the country’s President-Elect, Mr. Adama Barrow, or be ousted by force.
Though details of the planned military intervention by ECOWAS in The Gambia if Jammeh refuses to vacate office for Barrow on Thursday remain sketchy, regional leaders have signalled their determination to mount a rare African defence of democratic principle by using force to ensure that Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s president of 22 years, gives up power following his defeat in an election last month.
Nigeria has reportedly asked British military advisers to assist in planning a “rapid reaction” military incursion into Gambia in order to install Adama Barrow, the election’s surprise winner, as the country’s new president.
Mr Barrow, a former real estate agent who briefly worked as a security guard at an Argos catalogue store while studying in London, was supposed to have been sworn in on Thursday — but Mr Jammeh, having initially conceded defeat, later reversed course and is refusing to stand down.
Mr Barrow left Gambia for neighbouring Senegal at the weekend at the advice of regional leaders, and will not return home until his inauguration until Thursday – perhaps under the escort of West African troops.
The president-elect’s inauguration plans were struck by tragedy after his son Habibu, who was eight, died on the way to hospital on Sunday after being bitten by a dog the previous evening near the capital Banjul, according to the BBC and postings by Gambians on Twitter.
Mr Barrow was unable to return for his son’s funeral, which took place almost immediately, as required by Islamic rite. Pictures posted on Twitter showed what appeared to be Habibu’s casket, covered in a black cotton shroud, being carried through a grove by mourners.
Habibu Barrow is survived by four siblings.
The African Union (AU) and ECOWAS have pledged to withdraw their recognition of Jammeh as President after Thursday.
But Nigerian officials played down the planned military intervention by the sub-region’s power block last night, saying ECOWAS still hoped Jammeh would respect himself and leave office by tomorrow night.
“From what I gathered, they are extending the olive branch till midnight of January 18th. If he does not (handover power) by 19th, the troops will take over,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Thisday newspaper last night.
Follow us on Twitter at @thesignalng
Copyright 2015 SIGNAL. Permission to use portions of this article is granted provided appropriate credits are given to www.signalng.com and other relevant sources.