Ivory Coast Chief of Staff General Soumaila Bakayoko (L) shakes hands with Peter Augustine Blay, Ghanaian Chief of Staff (R) as Nigerian Chief of Staff General Oluseyi Petinrin looks on at the start of a meeting of West African military chiefs in Abidjan on April 5, 2012 to discuss the possible deployment of a regional force to deal with the crisis in Mali after a band of low-ranking army officers toppled the Malian regime in Bamako on March 22. West African military chiefs met in Abidjan to discuss the possible deployment of a 2,000-strong military force as a chunk of Mali the size of France fell into the hands of Tuareg separatists and Islamists.
 AFP PHOTO / SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Gambia crisis: West African defense chiefs meet in Abuja

Military Chiefs from ECOWAS nations are meeting in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja to discuss The Gambia “as part of efforts to mitigate the political impasse” in the West African nation.

President Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down leaving fellow African leaders with fewer choices than to deploy a standby force to bend the longtime authoritarian ruler to leave.

President-elect Adama Barrow defeated Jammeh is the polls last month. Jammeh initially accepted defeat before making a political u-turn sparking the crisis. Jammeh has since refused to cede power citing irregularities.

Mr. Barrow unexpectedly went on an official foreign engagement to Mali, where he met French President Francois Hollande and held talks with other West African leaders in a sign of his growing international clout and strong local support.

ECOWAS has solicited the support of the UN Security Council to send troops to The Gambia to enforce the election results and uphold the will of The Gambian people.

Although Nigeria’s military Spokesperson Brigadier General Sani K. Usman dispelled reports that it is sending troops to The Gambia, the Premium Times, AP and Washington Post reported that there was a memo for 800 troops to be deployed as part of the ECOWAS standby force.

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