Pres­sure on Gam­bia mounts

Push to en­sure newly elected pres­i­dent takes power

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - WASH­ING­TON POST

WEST African troops are gath­ered at Sene­gal’s bor­der with Gam­bia, poised to in­ter­vene to en­sure pres­i­dent-elect Adama Bar­row takes power as the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil pre­pared to vote on a res­o­lu­tion au­tho­ris­ing a mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion.

Bar­row had said on Twit­ter that he would be sworn in at the Gam­bian em­bassy in Sene­gal at 4pm lo­cal time yes­ter­day. Nige­ria and Ghana com­mit­ted troops and air­craft to join forces from Sene­gal, which sur­rounds Gam­bia on three sides.

The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil was sched­uled to vote yes­ter­day on a res­o­lu­tion that would au­tho­rise the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (Ecowas) to use all nec­es­sary means to en­force the out­come of last month’s elec­tions in which Bar­row de­feated Yahya Jam­meh.

Jam­meh, who has been in of­fice since 1994 and once vowed to rule for a bil­lion years, sur­prised the na­tion of fewer than 2mil­lion by ac­knowl­edg­ing he lost the vote, be­fore chang­ing his mind and cast­ing doubt over the re­sults.

“If Ecowas does not in­ter­vene, its abil­ity to main­tain po­lit­i­cal or­der among its mem­ber coun­tries would lose cred­i­bil­ity,” said Ade­line van Houtte, Africa an­a­lyst for the Econ­o­mist In­tel­li­gence Unit.

“And if Mr Jam­meh man­ages to cling to power, it would also dam­age the cred­i­bil­ity of so-called demo­cratic elec­tions in the re­gion.”

Thou­sands of Gam­bians have fled to Sene­gal, pil­ing their be­long­ings on taxis cross­ing the bor­der, with the Sene­galese govern­ment es­ti­mat­ing that al­most 30 000 peo­ple had ar­rived.

Travel com­pany Thomas Cook said it was fly­ing back about 1000 UK cus­tomers. Gam­bia de­pends on tourists from the UK, Ger­many and the Nether­lands for most of its rev­enue.

The regional states de­cided to take the ac­tion after Jam­meh, 51, de­clared a 90-day state of emer­gency late on Tues­day. The AU has said it would no longer recog­nise Jam­meh as pres­i­dent as of yes­ter­day.

“The regional body Ecowas has re­it­er­ated its de­ter­mi­na­tion to take all nec­es­sary mea­sures to en­sure the trans­fer of power to pres­i­dent-elect Bar­row,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesper­son for the UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral, as­sert­ing the UN’s sup­port.

The Nige­rian Air Force said on its Face­book page that it is de­ploy­ing 200 men, fighter jets, trans­port air­craft and a he­li­copter to Sene­gal for the op­er­a­tion. Ghana sent more than 200 troops to bol­ster the in­ter­ven­tion force, pres­i­den­tial spokesman Eugene Arhin said.

The US em­bassy closed all its non-emer­gency ser­vices on Wed­nes­day.


Gam­bia’s pres­i­dent Yahya Jam­meh.

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