In order to forestall probable breakdown of law and order, President Muhammadu Buhari, and other African leaders have urged Gambia’s long-ruling President, Yahya Jammeh to respect people’s will and step down following his defeat in December 1st presidential election.
Jammeh, who had been in power since 1994, following a coup had initially conceded defeat to opponent, Adama Barrow, but backtracked citing irregularities in official results.
However, the electoral commission said Barrow obtained 222,708 votes (43.3%) compared with Jammeh’s 208,487 (39.6%), while a third candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 89,768 votes (17.1%).
The Commission’s chairman, Alieu Momar Njai defended the results, saying even in court, every vote cast would be proven.
Hence, a delegation of West African leaders, including Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s John Mahama under auspices of regional body ECOWAS was in the capital Banjul on Tuesday on a mission to persuade Jammeh to transfer power to the president-elect.
“We hope that the will of the people prevails,” Johnson Sirleaf, also ECOWAS chairwoman, told reporters on arrival.
“We will be asking President Jammeh to respect his country’s Constitution, and to maintain the inviolability of the electoral process,” Buhari said on Twitter.
Diplomats said that if Jammeh seeks to cling to power after negotiations fail, neighbours might consider options for removing him by force.
President of the ECOWAS commission, Marcel de Souza, said on Monday that sending troops was a conceivable solution.
In his words, “We have done it in the past,We currently have troops in Guinea-Bissau with the Ecomib mission. We have had troops in Mali. And therefore it is a possible solution.”
However, the African Union said in a statement on Monday that it also planned to send a high-level delegation led by Chad’s long-ruling President Idriss Deby.
Meanwhile, security forces have taken over headquarters of the electoral commission which holds original poll records, barring staffs from entering.
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