Gambia’s President-Elect Barrow To Remain In Senegal Until Hand Over
Mr Barrow’s departure came a day after West African leaders failed to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to step aside.
The President-elect, a former real estate agent, won a December 1 election in the former British colony by a slim margin. Long-ruling Jammeh conceded defeat but then changed his mind, plunging one of West Africa’s tourist hot spots into crisis and dimming hopes for democracy in a region accustomed to coups and autocratic rule.
Barrow, backed by the West and the African Union, is due to be inaugurated on January 19, although Jammeh is seeking to block this pending a Supreme Court ruling on his legal challenge to poll results.
“He (Barrow) is in Dakar. He will be back for the inauguration and we are mobilising the whole country for that,” Reuters quoted a member of Barrow’s coalition, Isatou Toure, as saying.
Toure did not say why Barrow had gone to Dakar, although other supporters said he felt vulnerable given a lack of security.
The regional mediation mission to Banjul on Saturday, led by Nigeria’s President Buhari Muhammadu Buhari and Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was seen as the last attempt at a diplomatic resolution to the political impasse.
Talks with regional bloc ECOWAS in December had also failed.
The bloc will seek formal approval to send troops if Jammeh continues to refuse to step aside, U.N. Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel Mohammed Ibn Chambas said earlier this week.
“His Excellency the President reiterated his position and that of The Gambia Government,” said a statement for Gambia’s President on the State House website after Saturday’s meeting.
The African Union on Friday said it would cease to recognise Yahya Jammeh as Gambia’s president as of January 19, the date he is due to hand power to the winner of the December election.