Gambia: President Jammeh refuses to relinquish power

Banjul – Gambians woke up to a tense stand-off on Thursday as two men claimed they were the legitimate leader of the west African country.

The constitutional crisis unfolded as Senegalese troops amassed on the Gambian border, preparing to invade to enforce the result of December’s election in which Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s leader for 22 years, was defeated.

Jammeh, whose term ended at midnight on Wednesday, has refused to step down. Adama Barrow, the businessman who defeated him at the elections, is in neighbouring Senegal but has said he was preparing to be inaugurated on Thursday on Gambian territory.

The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), a regional bloc of 15 nations of which Senegal is a member, has warned that it will intervene militarily to resolve the crisis if diplomatic efforts fail to convince Jammeh to relinquish power.

The African Union has said it would not recognise him as president from Thursday. But Jammeh has insisted he remains in charge under a 90-day state of emergency that he announced this week.

Halifa Sallah, spokesman for Barrow’s opposition coalition, said there was a situation of contested legitimacy between the two presidents.

The outcome would be decided by facts on the ground. Whether Jammeh’s soldiers continue to be loyal to him is a fundamental question, he said. On Wednesday night, hours before Jammeh’s term was supposed to end, Ousman Badjie, his chief of defence staff, indicated that much of Gambia’s small armed forces would not fight for the president. I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight. I love my men, he said.

Source: Angola Press News Agency