Confusion in Gambia, Jammeh stays put, Barrow to be sworn in at Gambia embassy in Senegal
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has held on to power in spite of the expiration of the January 19 deadline given for him by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to step down and for new President to be sworn in. His confidence is buoyed by The Gambia legislature which extended his stay by 90 days.
Gambian online newspaper, Freedom Newspaper reports that way after midnight, there were still no signs of Jammeh stepping down from Power.
BBC reporter in the capital said “It’s eerily quiet in Banjul this morning. Most streets are deserted and there’s very little traffic on the main roads. Shops, gas stations, banks are all closed. People are mostly staying home not knowing what may happen next”.
In the meantime, European tourists continue to evacuate their hotels and are being shuttled to the airport to board charter flights that will take them home earlier than they had planned.
In some areas, men are standing on the roadside, arms crossed or looking at their phones.
Botswana government has issued a statement saying it would no longer recognise Jammeh as President of Uganda.
Meantime, President-elect Adama Barrow has said he would take oath of office in the The Gambia embassy in Dakar, Senegal.
Mr. Jammeh is yet to vacate the State House. He met with the Mauritanian Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, hours before the expiration of his five-year mandate, Freedom Newspaper reports.
Abdel Azizi was in Gambia to negotiate Jammeh’s safe exit but details of the meeting were yet to be disclosed.
President Aziz had departed to Senegal for more talks with the Senegalese President: many hope that the meetings will bring about a better resolution to the political crisis.
President elect Adama Barrow, is due to be officially sworn in today. He is Gambia’s third president since independence back 1965.
Newly elected President, Mr. Adama Barrow, has the backing of the ECOWAS bloc, the African Union, the United Nations and the International Community.
Meanwhile, Jammeh has lost most of his support especially with the country’s Army Chief, Ousman Badjie declaring that he will not fight the ECOWAS troop.
Badjie said on Wednesday that if the troops currently at the Gambian border should enter its territory, he would not order his men to fight.
Already, over five of Jammeh’s Ministers have resigned their appointments over Jammeh’s refusal to relinquish power.
“We are not going to involve ourselves militarily. This is a political dispute,” Chief of Defence Staff Ousman Badjie said, after eating dinner in a tourist district close to the capital, Banjul, eyewitnesses told AFP.
“I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight. I love my men,” he added, stopping to pose for selfies with admirers while dressed in fatigues, beret and green t-shirt, according to those present.
We are not going to involve ourselves militarily. This is a political dispute…I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight. I love my men.
“If they (Senegalese) come in, we are here like this,” Badjie said, making a hands up to surrender gesture.
The Senegalese troops backed by Nigerian Air Force and other African troops were on standby to move into The Gambia as President Yahya Jammeh approached a midnight deadline to stand down or face military action after refusing to leave at the end of his term.
“Our troops are on alert… The ultimatum takes effect at midnight,” when Jammeh’s mandate is due to expire, Senegal army spokesman Colonel Abdou Ndiaye told AFP ahead of the deadline.
Observers say Jammeh stands no chance against the forces advancing into the Nation’s territory.
Gambia’s combined military forces as at 2013 is not up to 2500 men with about six aircraft and several small vessels. They would be subdued by the number of ground troops from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone and France outnumbers Gambia’s forces. Over 20 fighter jets, and warships have also been deployed including Nigeria’s newest warship the NNS Unity