AU to shut door on Jam­meh

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - World News -

AD­DIS ABABA/ BANJUL. - The African Union will cease to recog­nise Gam­bia’s Yahya Jam­meh as the West African na­tion’s le­git­i­mate pres­i­dent as of Jan­uary 19, the date he is due to hand power to the win­ner of a De­cem­ber 1 elec­tion, the AU’s Peace and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil said.

In a state­ment is­sued af­ter a meet­ing in the Ethiopian cap­i­tal, the coun­cil also warned of “se­ri­ous con­se­quences in the event that his ac­tion causes any cri­sis that could lead to po­lit­i­cal dis­or­der, hu­man­i­tar­ian and hu­man rights dis­as­ter, in­clud­ing loss of in­no­cent lives and de­struc­tion of prop­er­ties”.

Mean­while, Nige­ria’s pres­i­dent was lead­ing a re­gional del­e­ga­tion to Gam­bia in a last-ditch at­tempt yes­ter­day to per­suade its long-time leader to step down and al­low his ri­val’s in­au­gu­ra­tion next week.

Nige­rian leg­is­la­tors voted on Thurs­day to of­fer asy­lum to Pres­i­dent Yahya Jam­meh, who is re­fus­ing to cede power af­ter los­ing elec­tions.

Leg­is­la­tors con­firmed the vote in favour of au­tho­ris­ing Nige­ria’s leader to of­fer safe haven to Pres­i­dent Jam­meh.

The of­fer would “strengthen the hand” of Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari in ne­go­ti­at­ing with Jam­meh, said Sani Zoro Mo­hammed, the leg­is­la­tor who spon­sored the mo­tion.

Yes­ter­day, Pres­i­dent Buhari was head­ing a del­e­ga­tion of the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States to Gam­bia to try to ne­go­ti­ate a diplo­matic res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis, seen as a test of democ­racy in a re­gion once pop­u­lated by mil­i­tary dic­ta­tors. The West Africa re­gional bloc also has a mil­i­tary force on standby to in­ter­vene if Jam­meh does not step down when his man­date ex­pires Jan­uary 19.

Jam­meh took power in a coup in 1994 in the tiny coun­try of 1,9 mil­lion peo­ple.

He ini­tially ac­cepted de­feat in the De­cem­ber 1 elec­tion and pub­licly con­grat­u­lated win­ner Adama Bar­row, the can­di­date of an op­po­si­tion coali­tion.

But then Jam­meh changed his mind, or­dered troops to take over the elec­toral com­mis­sion of­fice and chal­lenged elec­tion re­sults at the Supreme Court.

The court, short of judges, has said it might not be able to con­sider that chal- lenge un­til May, but Jam­meh says Gam­bia should await its de­ci­sion. Jam­meh might be wary of a Nige­rian prom­ise of safe haven.

Nige­ria of­fered asy­lum to Liberian war­lord Charles Tay­lor in 2003 to help end the civil war he started in 1989, but was forced by in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to hand Tay­lor over in 2006 for trial for war crimes com­mit­ted in Sierra Leone -

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