African leaders 'to ask Gambia's Jammeh to step down'

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Yahya Jammeh (File: AFP)
Yahya Jammeh (File: AFP)

Dakar - West African leaders are to head to Gambia on Tuesday to try to persuade incumbent President Yahya Jammeh to agree "to leave office" after his defeat at the ballot box, a Senegalese foreign ministry source said on Monday.

The delegation headed by Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, current chair of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), will include Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone leader Ernest Bai Koroma and outgoing Ghanaian President John Mahama, the source said.

"These leaders will ask him to leave office," the source added.

Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye said an Ecowas delegation was previously due in Banjul last week but Jammeh did not allow them to visit.

In a U-turn at the weekend, the temperamental Jammeh, who has ruled The Gambia with an iron fist with 22 years, rejected his stunning electoral defeat to opposition candidate Adama Barrow.

Barrow is due on Tuesday to welcome the Ecowas  delegation, which will also include UN representatives, which the president-elect said gave him hope that he would soon take power.

Sirleaf said over the weekend that the reversal of Jammeh's decision "threatened peace".

She asked him on Saturday to "do the right thing and take actions to facilitate a smooth and peaceful transition in The Gambia."

Sirleaf's plane was apparently refused the right to enter The Gambia as a mediator over the weekend.

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