President Yahya Jammeh’s stratagem is backfiring. Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is livid about Jammeh’s recording and televising of their phone conversation. Johnson Sirleaf told the BBC that Mr. Jammeh played a “ruse” on her.
“At the time he called me I was thinking that he was going to find a way out of this and he was going to be able to work with the team but clearly, clearly it was just a game. It was just a ruse on his part,” said Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf, who is also the Chair of ECOWAS.
President Jammeh called the Liberian leader for the second time and recording their conversation without advising her. Jammeh was pleading with Ms. Johnson Sirleaf to help facilitate the arrival of judges to the Gambia to hear his election petition and an injunction he filed to stop the inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow.
“Let me make it very, very clear. There is no change in Ecowas’s position. The constitution of the Gambia must be respected,” Johnson Sirleaf said. “My only duty was to take his appeal and pass it on to the mediating team.”
A spokesperson for Liberia’s presidency said, President Jammeh’s action is wanting and irresponsible.
Jammeh accused ECOWAS of not being impartial last month and called for new mediators.
An attempt by a team that included Johnson Sirleaf was last week unsuccessful in their final diplomatic attempt for Jammeh to exit quietly.
Regional leaders have signaled their determination to mount a rare African defense of democratic principle by using force to ensure that Yahya Jammeh, Gambia’s president of 22 years, gives up power following his defeat in an election last month.