Saturday, December 10

You can’t reject polls, Gambia’s President-elect tells Jammeh

You can’t reject polls, Gambia’s President-elect tells Jammeh

As Gambia stops ECOWAS chair’s plane landing

Gambia’s President Elect Adama Barrow said that the country’s outgoing leader Yahya Jammeh had no constitutional authority to reject the results of December 1. polls and call fresh elections.

“I open up a channel of communication to convince him to facilitate a smooth transfer of executive powers in the supreme interest of this country,” he told reporters on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the African Union on Saturday called a statement by Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh rejecting his loss in December 1 polls “null and void” since he had already conceded defeat.

“The Chairperson of the Commission strongly urges President Yahya Jammeh to facilitate a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma who also called on Gambia’s security forces to remain neutral.

And in a related development, Gambian authorities have refused entry to the chair of regional body ECOWAS, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Senegal’s foreign minister said on Saturday, dampening hopes for a political solution after President Yahya Jammeh rejected the results of elections that he lost on Dec. 1.

Jammeh on Friday called for another election in the tiny West African country after narrowly losing to opposition leader Adama Barrow. He had already conceded defeat publicly last week, reports Reuters.

The announcement on state television threw Gambia’s future into doubt after the unexpected election result ended Jammeh’s 22-year rule and was widely seen as a moment of democratic hope.

The streets of Banjul were calm on Saturday, although some residents said they were staying at home for fear of violence.

Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) chair Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had hoped to put back on track Gambia’s first democratic transition of power in over 50 years, but those plans appeared thwarted on Saturday when her plane was denied landing access at Banjul.

“Johnson Sirleaf was supposed to fly in today, but Jammeh said ‘not at the moment,'” Senegal foreign minister Mankeur Ndiaye told Reuters. It was not clear if the plane had already taken off.

Sirleaf’s camp was not immediately available for comment. A spokesman for Jammeh’s government could not be reached.

As Gambians brace for a tense standoff, international criticism of Jammeh’s claim came in fast. Following the United States and Senegal, the African Union on Saturday weighed in, calling Jammeh’s statement “null and void”.

“The Chairperson of the Commission strongly urges President Yahya Jammeh to facilitate a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who also called on Gambia’s security forces to remain neutral.

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