Gambia’s military chief Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie renewed his support and the military’s loyalty to President Yahya Jammeh in a new year’s message to the outgoing president.
President Yahya Jammeh who is refusing to step down after losing an election says he will defend The Gambia against a standby ECOWAS force due to militarily intervene in the West African country and uphold the election results if Jammeh fails to hand over when his mandate expires.
Bargie was among the security chief who pledged allegiance to President-elect Adama Barrow when President Jammeh initially conceded defeat. The General reversed his decision after Jammeh made a u-turn rejecting the results.
“May I please seize this opportunity to also renew to Your Excellency the assurance of the unflinching loyalty and support of The Gambia Armed Forces to Your Excellency, the Government, and People of The Gambia,” Mr. Bargie said, while commending Jammeh for demonstrating personal commitment to The Gambia Armed Forces for making it “one of the most developed armies….that is second to none in the world.”
Gambia’s army is deeply divided over Jammeh’s hold on power. Security forces loyal to Mr. Jammeh laid siege on the electoral commission office for weeks before deserting it. Electoral Chief Alieu Momar Njai has fled the country after receiving death threats.
Gambian officials are under pressure and Bargie has appeared in public decorated in amulets that are believed to be for protection.
Bargie in the past weeks warned against foreign influence to destabilize the country. He met West African leaders who were on a fact-finding mission wearing a badged picture of President Jammeh.
Bargie told reporters last month that he is loyal to Mr. Jammeh for he pays his salary.
Gambia Bar Association said Jammeh’s refusal to step down is “treasonous” and Senegal’s President Macky Sall says if it ends up in a military intervention, there would be “dramatic” consequences for Mr. Jammeh.