Outgoing Gambian president still refuses to surrender post
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.