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Buhari, W/African Leaders Arrives Gambia to Urge Jammeh to Step Down

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…Jude Johnson

The President of Nigeria,  Muhammad Buhari and  other West African leaders, led by Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, have arrived The Gambia, to help ensure push for peaceful democratic transition of power  in the country.

The West African leaders efforts is to convince long-time President Yahya Jammeh to step down after his loss in the December 2 election to the opposition coalition candidate, Mr. Adama Barrow.

The UN Security Council made the plan known while briefing newsmen after a closed-door meeting by the 15 members on the political situation in The Gambia.

Deputy Permanent Representative of Spain, Mr Juan Manuel De Linares, said the members of the council stood by their unanimous statement on December 10 that Jammeh should commence the peaceful transfer of power to Barrow without further delay.

“A delegation by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to ECOWAS (Mohammed Ibn Chambas) and other ECOWAS and AU leaders will lead high-level delegation to Banjul tomorrow,” he said.

The embattled Gambian President initially conceded defeat to election winner Adama Barrow but withdrew his concession late Friday, saying “unacceptable errors” were found by election officials.

Reports from West Africa Monday say Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will lead a delegation that will travel to the Gambian capital, Banjul, and ask Jammeh to accept the election result.

The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Ms. Samantha Power, said the delegation will include Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone leader Ernest Bai Koroma and outgoing Ghanaian President John Mahama. She said it is significant that Mahama is included because he conceded defeat on Friday after losing Ghana’s presidential election.

“The delegation that is visiting tomorrow (Tuesday) is extremely significant,” she said.

Power described the situation in Gambia as “a very dangerous moment” for the country. “We know that there are some military officers that have sided with President Jammeh since his retreat from his prior recognition that he had lost the election, and that’s a very alarming circumstance,” she said.

Power said everyone in the international community is “singing from the same sheet of music and the song is clear: you have lost the election, President Jammeh, and you must give up power peacefully to your freely elected successor.”

Reversal ‘unacceptable’

In her role as chairperson of the West African ECOWAS bloc, Johnson Sirleaf said Saturday that Jammeh’s reversal was “unacceptable” and threatened peace in Gambia and the entire West African sub-region.

She called on Jammeh to “do the right thing” and facilitate a smooth transfer of power. She also called on President-elect Barrow and his supporters to exercise restraint.

After the Gambian election results were announced, state media broadcast a phone call in which President Jammeh told Barrow that he wanted to hand over power graciously and vowed not to contest the results.

Jammeh congratulated Barrow for his “clear victory” and praised the elections as “transparent” and “rig-proof.” He also said, “Allah is telling me my time is up,” and added he would move to his farm after leaving office in January.

Barrow, 51, represented a coalition of seven opposition parties that challenged Jammeh.

Jammeh, also 51, has ruled the tiny West African nation since taking power in a military coup in 1994. He won four subsequent elections that critics said were neither free nor fair, and supported a 2002 constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits. He once said he could rule Gambia for “a billion years.”

Credits: VOA, Leadership

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