President Yahya Jammeh says ECOWAS deploying its standby force to enforce the outcome of the polls in which he was defeated is “a declaration of war” and would “escalate into a military confrontation.”
Jammeh accused ECOWAS of violating his country’s sovereignty and their decision to send troops to bend him to hand over power as “blatant and one-sided.”
Although his military is deeply divided and ill-equipped, Jammeh in his New Year message said he would defend The Gambia against any aggression. Forces loyal to the defeated longtime ruler of this tiny West African nation have been deployed to the streets of the capital, Banjul since Mr. Jammeh made unknown his intention to clinch on to power.
Jammeh, who has filed a legal petition in court challenging the election results insists on fresh polls to be held under a new electoral commission.
“What we are simply and rightfully asking for is to return to the polls and allow Gambians to elect who they want to be their president in a free and fair election,” he said.
Opposition leaders say that has already been done. Jammeh initially accepted defeated and called the elections the “most transparent in the world” that is also “rig-proof and fraud-proof.”
The UN, AU, EU, and OIC are supporting the ECOWAS resolution adopted by West African leaders in Abuja, Nigeria who say Mr. Jammeh’s refusal to leave is a threat to the stability of the sub-region.
Jammeh suffered defeat in the hand of a little-known businessman, Adama Barrow who is being backed by a coalition of seven opposition parties and an independent candidate.
Barrow insists he would take office on January 19, when Mr. Jammeh’s mandate expires and would declare him a rebel if he refuses to hand over.