Going by the recent position adopted by the African Union (AU), that it will no longer recognise Yahya Jammeh as President of The Gambia, the continental body would in principle turn to Adama Barrow as the country’s leader for official relations.
President Yahya Jammeh’s term in office as leader of the tiny West African country comes to an end next Thursday and AU has warned of “serious consequences” if Mr. Jammeh’s refusal to give up power causes a crisis.
Barrow, who won the December 2016 presidential election, said he believed he would be sworn in Thursday, even as the outgoing Gambian dictator, Jammeh, has closed the country’s border with Senegal.
According to Agency reports, the border closure followed reports of massive exodus of Gambians fleeing the country amid threats of external invasion from ECOWAS to flush out the despotic Jammeh regime.
Similarly, President-elect Barrow, who told the BBC in an interview that he is willing to have a face-to-face dialogue with Jammeh, was invited to take part in the ECOWAS meeting holding in Mali yesterday.
Barrow, the winner of the December presidential election, has also said there is no need for President Yahya Jammeh to seek asylum, expressing confidence that direct talks can solve the crisis.
While also expressing optimism that he would be sworn in on January 19, despite his rival’s refusal to give up power. The President-elect declared: “We want to keep Jammeh in The Gambia, I don’t think there is any need for him to go to another country.”
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari among other ECOWAS leaders, flew to Banjul to try and broker an end to the deadlock, even as Nigeria’s House of Representatives voted to offer Jammeh asylum to help negotiations.
But the man expected to take over from the outgoing President; Barrow maintains: “We solve our problems within ourselves without the intervention of anybody. I think that’s what we’d prefer.”
It would be recalled that Jammeh had initially conceded defeat, but later contested the election, contending that he wants the results annulled claiming the electoral commission had admitted some errors, although the body insists it did not affect the final outcome.
Jammeh, 51, seized power in the country in 1994 and has been accused of human rights abuses, although he has held regular elections. The country’s Supreme Court said it was unable to hear Jammeh’s petition until May, owing to a shortage of judges, but Jammeh maintains that he will not step down until then.
At its meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the AU peace and security council called on Gambia’s security forces to exercise restraint.