ECOWAS military forces led by Senegal have entered the West African nation of The Gambia to dislodge its longtime former ruler, Yahya Jammeh, who is refusing to cede power.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow, who won last month’s election, took his oath of office at the Gambian embassy in Dakar, Senegal’s capital.
President Barrow has warned soldiers to abandon their loyalty to Mr. Jammeh and that those found illegally holding arms will be considered rebels.
“I call personally on the armed forces and security agencies to be loyal to their republic, and I command all members of the armed forces to demonstrate their loyalty to me,” he said.
Senegalese military General leading the forces said they are already in Gambia and would fight any resistance.
“They [troops] are walking towards Banjul. It is already war. If we find any resistance, we will fight it,” said General Francis Ndiaye.
Nigeria said earlier in the day that its “armed reconnaissance air force are over Gambia”, AFP reports.
“They have the capacity to strike,” Nigerian Air Force spokesman Ayodele Famuyiwa told the news agency.
A few people were out on the streets celebrating but tensions are still rising as reports of fighting around the former president’s home in Kanilai emerge.
Yahya Jammeh’s popularity dwindled as his grip on power became strong through repressive means. Opposition to his rule became vocal from outside, especially after the 2012 execution of nine prisoners that caused an international outcry.