Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz in Banjul to convince President Yahya Jammeh to cede power and avert a military intervention in the West African nation of The Gambia.
President Jammeh’s mandate expires in a few hours but he is refusing to leave power after losing elections to opposition rival Adama Barrow. President Abdel Aziz hopes he can prevail over the strongman to leave.
West African troops are on standby to activate the mission to enforce the outcome of the elections if Jammeh failed to step aside by midnight.
Mediation efforts by West African leaders led by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari for Jammeh to concede defeat failed. The use of the courts and declaration of a state of emergency were unable to give Jammeh the assurance he needed to remain in power.
The longtime ruler is faced with international pressure and unprecedented local resistance to give way to Mr. Barrow.
Jammeh, who has been president since he led a coup 22 years ago, initially accepted the result of the Dec. 1 election — but dramatically changed his mind a week later, saying that the results were void because of voting “irregularities.”
Barrow is preparing to be sworn-in and a spokesperson for the opposition said it will be on Gambian soil.
Jammeh has said he will stay in office until new elections are held. Retaining power would also ensure he was not prosecuted in The Gambia for alleged abuses committed during his rule.