Troops from West African nations will be escorting the Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow into the small nation to be sworn-in as its president.
Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh was defeated in the polls but refusing to step down. His refusal to cede power after accepting defeat left regional mediators led by Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari with no option but to authorize the use of force.
Gambia’s opposition spokesman has said that President-elect Adama Barrow will be sworn in on Gambian soil on January 19.
Halifa Sallah also warned Gambian security forces who would refuse to take an oath of loyalty to the new president saying that anyone under a president whose term has expired will be considered a rebel.
“It is clear that President Jammeh currently has armed men. At the time of the investiture, on the 18th at midnight, these persons shall take an oath of fidelity to the republic and to the new person to be invested. They must not follow his orders. Anyone who agrees to follow a president whose term has expired will be a rebel,” said Sallah.
The Gambia has a small army. It has less than 2,500 personnel and it is deeply divided. Tens of senior officers have been arrested and detained over claims that they have switched loyalty to Mr. Barrow.
ECOWAS troops to be led by Senegal are not a match for the Gambia’s ill-equipped and less trained military. More than 6,500 ECOWAS troops or about three times the size of the Gambia’s army may be deployed.
Barrow has been in Senegal since last week for safety precautions. His 8-year-old son, Habib Barrow, died after been mutilated by two dogs outside their home in the Manjai suburb, outside the capital Banjul.
Jammeh came to power as a 29-year-old army lieutenant and won four multi-party elections before he was finally defeated by Barrow in the December 1 elections.