West African leaders fly to Nigeria to hold talks on Gambia crisis


Four West African leaders will be travelling to Nigeria today (9 January) to discuss solutions to Gambia’s post-election political crisis. President Muhammadu Buhari is to host Senegal’s President Macky Sall, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sierra Leone Vice-President Victor Foh and former Ghana President John Mahama.

The five leaders will meet in the federal capital of Abuja to hold talks on how to avoid violence in Gambia, where outgoing President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to step down, in spite of losing a presidential election held in December 2016.

Jammeh, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1994, lost to Adama Barrow, head of a coalition of opposition parties and member of the United Democratic Party (UDP).

He initially conceded defeat, but now intends to contest the vote at the Supreme Court due to what he says are “unacceptable abnormalities”.

Meanwhile, reports also claimed that four private radio stations have now been shut down in Gambia as the political crisis is deepening.
The latest station to be closed by authorities, Paradise FM, had allowed an opposition spokesman, Halifa Sallah, as well as to a ruling party spokesman, Yankuba Colley, to discuss the political crisis, AFP reported.

In December, leaders from Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana met Jammeh and urged him to accept defeat. The leaders left without managing to secure a deal, with Jammeh vowing he would resist pressure to step down.

Jammeh’s U-turn has sent shock waves across the region, with growing tensions exacerbated by the chief of the army’s decision to pledge loyalty to Jammeh instead of Barrow.

Barrow is due to be sworn in on 19 January. He told IBTimes UK he considered himself the “rightful leader” of the country and was confident the issue could be resolved peacefully.

However, the head of Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas) has claimed that a military intervention to remove Jammeh was “possible” and that “stand-by forces” – likely led by Senegal – were on alert and would be deployed “to restore the people’s wish”.

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