Members of Gambia's Army forces are seen in a statdium in Banjul, Gambia December 5, 2016. Picture taken December 5, 2016. REUTERS/ Thierry Gouegnon

Gambian forces still lurking in the streets of the capital

Sandbags are still up, soldiers armed with Kalisnokovs are lurking everywhere – atop buildings, behind thick flower shrubberies and armored vehicles comb the streets in The Gambia’s capital, Banjul.

Forces loyal to The Gambia’s defeated President Yahya Jammeh were deployed by the country’s longtime authoritarian ruler to secure the capital after he refused to step down.

Jammeh was defeated in the polls by a political novice and businessman Adama Barrow. Barrow was backed by seven opposition groups and an independent candidate.

Jammeh received global praise for conceding defeat, a first for an African strongman accused of rights violations, but now faces strong international condemnation and local resistance for refusing to hand over power.

Jammeh has filed a petition in court to have the results annulled and fresh electionsto be held. Six new justices have since been appointed to the Supreme Court to hear his petition.

The international community says Jammeh must hand over when his mandate expires next month. ECOWAS has authorized a standby force to be deployed to enforce the outcome of the Gambia’s December polls.

ECOWAS Chair Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told reporters that Mr. Jammeh’s continuous stay in power may cause instability to the sub-region.

Businesses in The Gambia are reporting souring profits and urged Jammeh to allow the peaceful transfer of power.

Gambian soldiers occupying the electoral commission have left after pressure from the international community for them to vacate.

President Yahya Jammeh came to power through a coup in 1994 and has since ruled The Gambia with an iron fist. Opposition leaders vow to declare Jammeh a rebel if he refuses to leave power on January 18.

(Reporting by Saikou Jammeh, Writing by Sam Phatey; Editing by Alhagie Jobe)

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