Last minute diplomatic efforts by Mauritania to persuade Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh to step down appear to have failed. A deadline set by the West African regional bloc ECOWAS came and went without Jammeh relinquishing power.
After more than two decades in office, Jammeh is facing military intervention by regional forces. Senegal said it would enter Gambia after the midnight deadline.
Senegal has circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member UN Security Council that would give “full support to the ECOWAS in its commitment to take all necessary measures to ensure the respect of the will of the people of The Gambia”.
Jammeh, who lost a Dec. 1 election to opposition leader Adama Barrow, says he will not step down, citing irregularities in the vote.
President-elect Adama Barrow is due to be sworn in today (Jan.19) His spokesman said the inauguration will happen on Gambian soil but at an undisclosed location. Barrow is currently in Senegal where he’s been staying for his own safety.
More than 26,000 Gambians, have sought refuge across the border fearing an outbreak of violence as the country descends into turmoil.
Meanwhile, thousands of UK and Dutch tourists continue to be evacuated from the tiny West African state on special charter flights.