Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh addressed the nation and says only the Supreme Court can declare the winner

Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh softens position on political crisis

President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia has softened his position not to step down, called for forgiveness and reopened communication with the coalition that won last month’s elections.

Jammeh, 51, suffered a shocking defeat in the hands of real estate developer Adama Barrow, who is backed by seven opposition parties and an independent candidate.

“I ask for all Gambians to forgive each other, especially the political class to ensure peace and stability in the country,” said Mr. Jammeh. “I will do all within the constitutional means and my conscience to resolve the sad impasse.”

Jammeh has appointed his Secretary General and Head of Civil Service to lead talks on his behalf with the opposition.

A meeting with ECOWAS leaders has been pushed to Friday. West African leaders were expected in Banjul to express to Jammeh it is “imperative for him to respect the constitution” and the will of the Gambian people.

President Jammeh’s latest remarks came after the country’s Chief Justice said the Supreme Court cannot rule on his challenge against his electoral defeat until May, casting doubts on whether a peaceful political transition will happen next week.

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