West African leaders are to meet in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja on Monday to discuss further steps to be taken in hopes to end the political uncertainty in The Gambia, says Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said he is receiving some disturbing information which he needs to verify and then a final decision will be made in Abuja on the course of action that the regional ECOWAS bloc would take to address the current situation in Gambia.
Mr. Buhari may not be too satisfied with the outcome of today’s major decision by West African leaders in Accra, Ghana on the sidelines of the inauguration of President Nana Akufo-Addo, to keep using diplomacy to persuade Jammeh to hand over power.
“There is some disturbing information the (Nigerian) president (Muhammadu Buhari) is hearing which he needs to verify and the Abuja meeting will take a final decision,” Onyeama said, without elaborating.
Reports are rife that Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh, who is refusing to step down after suffering a shocking defeat in the hands of coalition-backed Adama Barrow, is actively hiring mercenaries fighters from Ivory Coast and Liberia.
President Muhammadu Buhari, head of the ECOWAS mediation effort, has been very straight forward with Jammeh, asking him to step down. Jammeh had accused ECOWAS of being biased and call for new mediators to be appointed.
ECOWAS Chair and Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said in Accra West African leaders want to apply diplomatic solutions to solve the problem.
Asked if troops would be moved into Gambia she responded: “No, we want to keep the region peaceful.”
The U.S. has advised its citizens to leave the country due to the potential for civil unrest before or around the presidential transition that is supposed to take effect on January 19, and a January 10 Supreme Court session to hear a petition filed by outgoing President Jammeh contesting the December 1 election results.
Jammeh, a former coup leader who has ruled Gambia for 22 years, initially accepted his defeat by opposition figure Adama Barrow in the Dec. 1 election. But a week later reversed his position, vowing to hang onto power despite a wave of regional and international condemnation.