The United States has warned its citizens against travel to the Western African nation of The Gambia, because of potential civil unrest and violence it says is due to occur in the near future, and advised those already in the country to leave.
Family members of its embassy staffers in Banjul were ordered to depart last Friday and the country’s security situation remains uncertain over President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to step down and allow a peaceful transfer of power.
Jammeh was defeated in the polls by the opposition coalition-backed Adama Barrow, a businessman, who was little-known to many before his rise to leadership of the formerly fractured and now united opposition.
U.S. exhorted its citizens who decide to remain in The Gambia to prepare for the possible deterioration of security.
Tensions are expected to rise after a January 10 Supreme Court hearing over a petition filed by the incumbent President Yahya Jammeh contesting the election results.
The U.S. State Department says it is “a potential flashpoint that could lead to civil unrest” and had said last month that no credible court will hear Mr. Jammeh’s petition.
Human rights groups warned that the situation in The Gambia is worsening. A handful of pro-democracy campaigners have been arrested, at least two radio stations and the chair of the electoral commission had fled after receiving death threats.
Ecowas on Saturday it will continue to pursue a diplomatic effort for Jammeh to resign, but has a standby force to militarily intervene to enforce the outcome of the results.
West African leaders are due to meet on Monday in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja to make final decisions on ending the political impasse after Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said he is receiving disturbing intelligence on the situation of the tiny country.
President Yahya Jammeh is reportedly recruiting rebel fighters from across West Africa in border towns between Ivory Coast and Liberia to help him thwart international efforts to uphold the will of The Gambian people.