Gambia seems now to have two Presidents after Adama Barrow, the winner of the December 1 polls that are being contested by president Yahya Jammeh, got sworn in yesterday in Senegal. Yahya Jammeh’s final deadline to step down was given after that.
West African leaders represented in the regional bloc ECOWAS, who are on the side of President Adama Barrow, have given Yahya Jammeh until midday on Friday to step down and agree to leave the Gambia or face military action.
The Gambia has been in a state of tense expectation since Yahya Jammeh reneged on his concession and began to contest the result of the polls. There were fears that his refusal to vacate the seat of President would lead to violence and President Adama Barrow’s camp has said that he would be viewed as a rebel leader if he refused to step down.
In that vein, West African troops had come into Gambia yesterday to force Jammeh to step down. The troops, which were mobilised from Senegal and four other African nations including Nigeria, were said to number about 7,000.
A final play for diplomacy was, however, made and the military operations were suspended for what is meant to be a final talk with the outgoing President.
Marcel Alain de Souza, head of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS said;
“We have suspended operations and given him an ultimatum,”
“If by midday he doesn’t agree to leave The Gambia … we really will intervene militarily.”
The final talks were led by Guinean President Alpha Conde in the Gambia’s capital, Banjul and the result of the talk is yet to be ascertained. It is hoped that the talks will be fruitful, helped by the fact that a number of close allies of the outgoing President have resigned and abandoned him.
There have been some whispers that the deal for the President to step aside would include an amnesty deal that would ensure that he is not prosecuted for any human rights abuses that took place under his regime. Some critics, however, feel that this would be a bad precedent to set for African leaders who will come to expect it.
For the over 26,000 people who have fled the Gambia for Senegal since the start of the crisis fearing the looming unrest and the rest of the citizens who remain, news of a repentant President would be highly welcome as Yahya Jammeh’s final deadline looms large.
In fact, when Yahya Jammeh’s final deadline does pass, Africa as a whole would be glad not to have yet another warring state, as the last thing that we need in Africa is yet another conflict over a sit-tight leader.