Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh says he is “ready to die” to remain in power and “will not be intimidated” to step down while upbraiding mediation efforts by West African leaders.
“I am ready to die for what I believe in,” said Jammeh. “I am not a coward. My right cannot be intimidated and violated. This is my position. Nobody can deprive me of that victory except the Almighty Allah.”
Jammeh had conceded defeat to real estate businessman Adama Barrow, but rescinded his acceptance of the results a week later and demanded new polls be held.
Jammeh who had said the election was transparent and rig- and fraud proof now accuse the electoral commission of rigging the polls. Security forces loyal to Jammeh took over the electoral commission office spurring condemnation from the UN and the U.S. who have asked them to vacate.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said Jammeh’s behavior is disrespectful and defiant to the international community.
ECOWAS has urged The Gambian leader to step down. The international community is supporting the regional bloc’s position to uphold the outcome of The Gambia’s December 1 polls by any means necessary.
French President Francois Hollande told reporters that the elections were “indisputable,” and that Mr. Jammeh leaving power in non-negotiable. Gambia’s neighbors are not ruling out a military option to bend Jammeh to leave.
The U.S. warned anyone that uses violence to subvert the will of The Gambian people will be held accountable. UN Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’an al-Hussein notified Gambian authorities that Jammeh and his loyalist would be held responsible for rights violations if he refuses to leave.
“I will not be intimidated by any power in this world. I want to make sure justice is done. I’m a man of peace, but I cannot also be a coward. I am a man of peace but that does not also mean that I will not defend myself and defend my country and defend my country courageously, patriotically and win,” said Jammeh.
The defiant Gambian president who came to power through a coup in 1994 said his meeting with ECOWAS was just a formality.
“Already the ECOWAS meeting was a formality. Before they came, they had already said Jammeh must step down. I will not step down,” he said.
Many blamed Jammeh’s sudden political u-turn to his fear of being prosecuted. Gambia’s coalition government-in-waiting is divided over his fate.
A spokesperson for President-elect Adama Barrow, however, insist that Mr. Jammeh will not be prosecuted if he leaves power, but will be treated as a rebel if he refuses to step down after his term expires.
“There is no indication of a threat of prosecution or the need to threaten outgoing President Yahya Jammeh,” said Halifa Sallah. “President-elect Barrow says he is going to treat outgoing President Yahya Jammeh like a former head of state and would consult him for advice.”
Jammeh continues to insist the voter turnout is low because his supporters were told the opposition won but he (Jammeh) wants to make sure that the nearly 300,000 absentee voters to all get to vote.