Regional troops move toward Gambia amid political standoff

2017-01-19 10:45
(iStock)

(iStock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Dakar - Gambia headed late Wednesday toward a midnight showdown between a president who refuses to leave office and a president-elect who insists he will take power, while a regional force moved toward the country's borders in a threat to intervene.

Hours before the end of President Yahya Jammeh's mandate, legislators voted to extend his term by three months. Jammeh, who declared a three-month state of emergency on Tuesday, is challenging his loss in December's election, citing voting irregularities.

But an adviser to President-elect Adama Barrow, Mai Ahmad Fatty, warned in a Facebook post that "those who resist peaceful change effective 12 midnight tonight shall face definite consequences, to their peril. Anyone with firearms tonight shall be deemed a rebel, and will certainly become a legitimate target."

Supporters of Barrow insisted that he would be sworn in Thursday on Gambian soil. Barrow has been in neighboring Senegal for his safety, and It was unclear whether he might take the oath at a Gambian Embassy outside the country or if he would return.

A military commander with the West African regional bloc known as Ecowas announced that Jammeh had only hours to leave. "We are waiting so that all political means have been exhausted. The mandate of the president is finished at midnight," Seydou Maiga Mboro said on Senegalese radio station RFM, adding that "all the troops are already in place."

Detentions and torture 

The regional force was seeking the UN Security Council's endorsement of its "all necessary measures" to help remove Jammeh from power, according to a Senegal-circulated draft resolution seen by The Associated Press. The resolution was not drafted under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which can be enforced militarily.

Tourists were being evacuated from the tiny West African country. The capital, Banjul, was empty downtown, with all shops closed. A minimal security presence was on the streets.

Gambia's president-elect has the backing of the international community. "The U.N. supports regional efforts aimed at resolving the crisis," the deputy spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, Farhan Haq, said Wednesday, noting the end of Jammeh's term.

In another sign of the mounting international pressure, Nigeria confirmed a warship was heading toward Gambia for "training" as regional countries prepared for possible intervention. Diplomatic efforts by Ecowas have failed to persuade Jammeh to step down.

Gambia, a country of 1.9 million people, is estimated to have just 900 troops.

As the crisis deepened, more than 1 000 mainly British and Dutch tourists began leaving Gambia on specially chartered flights. Hundreds streamed into the airport, seeking information on departures.

Thousands of residents have been fleeing to Senegal, including a number of Jammeh's former government ministers, who resigned this week.

However, many tourists continued to enjoy lying on the beach. While Jammeh's government has been accused by human rights groups of arbitrary detentions and torture of opponents during his 22-year rule, the government has promoted Gambia as "the smiling coast of Africa."

Gambia's new state of emergency bans people from "any acts of disobedience" or violence, and it tells security forces to maintain order.


Read more on:    ecowas  |  adama barrow  |  yahya jammeh  |  gambia  |  gambia 2016 elections  |  west africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

7 weirdly awesome pets you can own

If you think it’s too boring to own a cat or a dog, consider getting one of these pets.

 
 

Paws

Pack theory: fact or fiction?
Perfect dog-walking 1: Why dogs pull on the lead
SA stats: The role of pets in families
The top 6 poisonous foods for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.