BANJUL DECEMBER 13, 2016 – West African heads of state began arriving in Gambia today to ask President Yahya Jammeh to accept defeat in this month’s Presidential Election.
The delegation is led by Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace laureate and the current chairwoman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
It includes Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, UN Special Representative for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Sierra Leone leader Ernest Bai Koroma and outgoing Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama.
“These leaders will ask him (President Jammeh) to leave office,” Mankeur Ndiaye, Senegalese foreign minister said in a statement, according to Reuters.
President Jammeh who ruled Gambia for 22 years had last week publicly conceded defeat after his loss to opposition leader Adama Barrow and pledged to hand over power in January following the transitional period dictated by Gambian law.
He however called for another election a week later on December 10, citing, “Serious and unacceptable abnormalities,” following a correction by the Independent Electoral Commission this week which gave Barrow a slim final victory margin of fewer than 20,000 votes.
“The outgoing president has no constitutional authority to reject the result of the election and order for fresh elections to be held,” Barrow told reporters.
“I open up a channel of communication to convince him to facilitate a smooth transfer of executive powers in the supreme interest of this country,” he said.
President Jammeh seized power in a coup in 1994 when he was an army lieutenant and has ruled ever since, wining four elections. International human rights groups accuse him of widespread violations and repression.