The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has given the embattled President of the Gambia, Mr. Yahya Jammeh, till midnight tomorrow to vacate office and hand over power to the country’s President-Elect, Mr. Adama Barrow, or be ousted by force.
Though details of the planned military intervention by ECOWAS in the Gambia, if Jammeh refuses to vacate office for Barrow on Thursday remains sketchy, it was gathered that ECOWAS has perfected plans to install the president-elect.
Efforts by Jammeh to erect a legal hurdle in the way of the ECOWAS-backed inauguration of Barrow suffered a serious setback yesterday as the country’s Supreme Court declined to hear an application by his party to that effect.
Last Thursday, the country’s ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) filed an application for an interlocutory injunction seeking to stop the inauguration of Mr. Barrow as President on January 19. But the Chief Justice of the Gambia, Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle refused to grant the application.
Barrow was declared the winner of the December 1, 2016 presidential election and was supposed to have been sworn in on Thursday. Jammeh, had initially conceded defeat, but later reversed course and is refusing to stand down.
His recant threw the country into confusion amid intervention by African leaders suing for a peaceful transition.
Mr. Barrow left Gambia for neighbouring Senegal at the weekend at the advice of regional leaders, and will not return home until his inauguration until Thursday – perhaps under the escort of West African troops.
The president-elect’s 8-year-old son, Habibu, died on the way to hospital on Sunday after being bitten by a dog the previous evening near the capital Banjul. Barrow was unable to return for his son’s funeral, which took place almost immediately, as required by Islamic rite.