Out­go­ing Gam­bian pres­i­dent still re­fuses to sur­ren­der post

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - WORLD -

DAKAR, SENE­GAL >> No deal was reached Fri­day in last­ditch at­tempts by a re­gional me­di­a­tion team to per­suade Gam­bia’s long­time leader to step down, and while me­di­a­tion will con­tinue, the in­au­gu­ra­tion next week of the elected op­po­si­tion coali­tion leader will go for­ward, the spokesman for the coali­tion said.

“This cri­sis has not been solved by these talks,” said spokesman Hal­ifa Sal­lah, adding that more ef­forts are needed to nar­row dif­fer­ences.

Sal­lah spoke af­ter Nige­ria’s pres­i­dent led talks Fri­day with Gam­bia’s Pres­i­dent Yahya Jam­meh and Pres­i­dent-elect Adama Bar­row in Gam­bia as part of me­di­a­tion ef­forts led by the West African re­gional bloc ECOWAS.

“The ex­pec­ta­tion is that the Gam­bian peo­ple and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will not sit and wait and pre­side over a coun­try that is de­stroyed by war — de­stroyed in terms of prop­erty, de­stroyed by hu­man be­ings and hu­man be­ings suf­fer­ing,” Sal­lah said, stress­ing that Gam­bia’s con­sti­tu­tion clearly spells out what is to hap­pen on the day a pres­i­dent’s term ex­pires.

Mean­while the African Union an­nounced it will cease to rec­og­nize Jam­meh as Gam­bia’s le­git­i­mate leader as of Thurs­day, when his man­date ex­pires. The de­ci­sion by the AU’s Peace and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil warns Jam­meh of se­ri­ous con­se­quences if his ac­tions lead to the “loss of in­no­cent lives” and calls on Gam­bia’s se­cu­rity forces to ex­er­cise re­straint.

Mo­hamed Ibn Cham­bas, U.N. spe­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive for West Africa and the Sa­hel, told the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on Fri­day that the Nige­rian-led del­e­ga­tion was “to leave no doubt about the de­ter­mi­na­tion of ECOWAS to use all nec­es­sary means, in­clud­ing force to have the will of the Gam­bian peo­ple up­held.”

The po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty has in the past 10 days sent sev­eral thou­sand peo­ple, mostly women and chil­dren, flee­ing across the bor­der to Sene­gal to stay with rel­a­tives or host fam­i­lies, the United Na­tions Refugee Agency said Fri­day.

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