The United Nations Security Council has been advised by Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s Special Envoy to Western African Mohammed Ibn Chambas to authorize ECOWAS to deploy a standby force to the West African nation of The Gambia after its President Yahya Jammeh refused to hand over power.
West African leaders led by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari were in Banjul on Friday in a last diplomatic effort for the country’s 22-year longstanding ruler to step down peacefully.
ECOWAS has put the standby force on hold pending the outcome of Friday’s talk with Jammeh.
The specter of a military intervention rose after declarations by the United Nations and the African Union that boots on the ground could get the green light if the situation is not rapidly resolved.
The African Union it will not be recognizing President Jammeh after his mandate expires. Jammeh’s mandate expires next week and President-elect Adama Barrow is confident he would be sworn in.
Edu Gomez, a lawyer for Mr. Jammeh filed a request with the Supreme Court on Thursday, asking for an injunction to block Mr. Barrow’s swearing-in.
Barrow flew to Bamako, Mali where he met with French President Francois Hollande and had meetings with West African leaders in respect to the ongoing crisis in the Gambia.
International rights groups are concerned about a looming refugee crisis as thousands have already fled the Gambia to Senegal and the Guineas.
Mr. Barrow won 43.3% of the vote in December’s election, compared with Mr. Jammeh’s 39.6%. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, got 17.1%.