HomeNewsGambia’s Jammeh offered last chance for peaceful exit before troops advance

Gambia’s Jammeh offered last chance for peaceful exit before troops advance


DAKAR, Senegal — West African leaders gave Yahya Jammeh, who lost elections last month, until midday yesterday to hand over power and agree to leave The Gambia or face military action carried out by the regional bloc Economic Community for West African States (Ecowas).


Yahya Jammeh
Yahya Jammeh

Later, however, Jammeh requested a four-hour extension until 4pm local time to cede, government sources said, according to the Reuters news agency.

It was not clear what he planned to do, though diplomats said his departure looked increasingly possible.

The leader of Guinea, Alpha Conde, and Mauritania’s Mahomed Abdel Aziz headed for The Gambia yesterday for talks with Jammeh.

West African troops entered the country to bolster new president Adama Barrow — who was sworn in on Thursday — but military operations were suspended a few hours later in favour of a final diplomatic push to convince Jammeh, who has stubbornly refused to quit.

In his first media interview with Al-Jazeera, Barrow urged Jammeh to leave the country and hoped that the 15 Ecowas countries could find him a safe

“We cannot allow Yahya Jammeh to remain in the Gambia; it will make our job difficult. That’s why all our negotiations is he leaves Gambia, he can later come back. But as of now, the political climate doesn’t allow that,” Barrow said

“I advise him in good faith to give peace a chance. It is about democracy.”

Gambia’s only land border is with Senegal and the regional coalition, which Ecowas says involves 7 000 troops, has entered from the southeast, southwest and north.

By late yesterday, Conde and Aziz were still locked up in talks with the beleaguered Jammeh, amid rising tensions and celebrations across The Gambia.

Meanwhile, South Africa is the only Sadc country that has so far congratulated and recognised Barrow’s swearing-in as the new President of Gambia.

“The South African government has congratulated President Adama Barrow following his swearing in as the new President of The Gambia, on January 19, 2017, at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal. In this regard, South Africa recognises President Adama Barrow as the legitimate President of The Gambia and looks forward to a close working relationship with him and the people of The Gambia, to build and strengthen our bilateral relations,” a statement on South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation website read.

“South Africa commends sterling efforts made by the international community, spearheaded by Ecowas, the AU and the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] in the quest to finding a lasting and peaceful resolution of the political crisis in The Gambia.

“The South African government calls on and urges former President Yahya Jammeh to co-operate with Ecowas, and should step down peacefully.”

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