Tuesday, 17 January 2017

War brews in Gambia as ECOWAS Issues last warning to Jammeh

Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, has until midnight of Wednesday, January 18 to leave office for the swearing-in of his successor, Adama Barrow.

This is the final verdict of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), according to a report by Thisday which further said the organisation has perfected plans to ensure Barrow becomes the new president of the country on Thursday, January 19.

This new challenge for Jammeh came same day the country’s Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle, refused to hear an application by his party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), to halt the swearing-in of Barrow.

Jammeh’s plot to remain in office beyond his legally mandated period was also punctured on Monday, January 16 with the resignation of the country’s foreign minister, Neneh MacDouall-Gaye.

The minister is to be followed by her counterparts, the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Addou kolley; the minister of Trade, Industry and Employment, Abdou Jobe; and the minister of Environment, Ousman Jarju.

Last week, Sheriff Bolang, the country’s information minister resigned and fled over the refusal of Jammeh to step down after his defeat in the December, 2016 poll.

A source reported that Mrs MacDouall-Gaye said her resignation was because of the prevailing circumstances, adding in her letter: “This letter serves as a formal notice of my resignation as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia.

“After due deliberation, I am of the conviction that under the prevailing circumstances I cannot effectively serve as foreign minister.”

Thanking Jammeh for the opportunity given her to serve, MacDouall-Gaye, who had been one of Jammeh’s most trusted allies, prayed that the political tension in the state is calmed and the issue between him and Barrow resolved.

According to a reports, there are indications the minister fled Gambia after resigning as it is believed Jammeh is increasingly being dumped.

Jammeh had initially congratulated Barrow after the latter was declared winner of the election but suddenly back-tracked and rejected the result of the poll.

The African Union and the ECOWAS have made efforts to prevail on him to step down from office with fears that it could result in civil war.

On Monday, there were unverified photographs of Gambian citizens leaving the country amid tension.

Thisday also quoted a staff of the country’s foreign ministry as saying: “From what I gathered, they are extending the olive branch till midnight of January 18th. If he does not (handover power) by 19th, the troops will take-over.”

The source said he had no idea of the troops but that they would come from ECOWAS.

When contacted, the report quoted the director of Army public relations, Brig-Gen Sani Usman, as saying that he was not aware of any plans to bring the military into the country as the issue falls into the purview of the foreign affairs ministry.

“We are not at the forefront of solving the political problem in The Gambia; we are soldiers,” he said.

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