Gambia’s Jammeh: Buhari Hosts Emergency ECOWAS Leaders’ Meeting

Gambia’s Jammeh: Buhari Hosts Emergency ECOWAS Leaders’ Meeting

By Agency Reports on January 9, 2017
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President Muhammadu Buhari (R) welcoming the visiting Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Monday (5/12/16). | Callistus Ewelike/BJO/NAN

President Muhammadu Buhari will be hosting four other West African leaders to an emergency meeting aimed at avoiding violence and preserving democracy in The Gambia.

The meeting in Abuja on Monday, January 9, 2016 follows the one in Accra on the sidelines of the inauguration of President Nana Akufo-Addo.

The Presidents of Liberia and Senegal, the Vice President of Sierra-Leone and ex-President Mahama are expected at the meeting.

Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said said the Abuja talks will discuss further steps to be taken.

“There are some disturbing information the (Nigerian) president (Muhammadu Buhari) is hearing which he needs to verify and the Abuja meeting will take a final decision,” he said, without elaborating.

The West African leaders at the Accra meeting expressed the readiness of the region to continue the pursuit of dialogue with the leaders of The Gambia.

At the last ECOWAS meeting in Abuja, President Buhari, and the former President of Ghana, John Mahama were appointed as Mediator and Co-Mediator to resolve the political impasse.

They were also been mandated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure the safety of the President-elect, Adama Barrow and ensure a peaceful handover of power on January 19.

After the meeting in Accra, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the regional bloc does not yet intend to deploy its standby military force in Gambia.

“We are committed to a peaceful mediation and a peaceful transfer of power in the Gambia … we will continue to pursue that for now,” Sirleaf, who chairs the 15-member body, said.

Asked if the regional group would deploy a standby force soon, she said “no”, adding that ECOWAS was closely monitoring proceedings in Gambia’s Supreme Court where President Yahya Jammeh is challenging the poll result.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the top U.N. official in West Africa, also attended the closed-door meeting, which was the first official engagement by Ghana’s new President Nana Akufo-Addo who was sworn in on Saturday.

Diplomats are concerned the impasse over the poll could escalate quickly into violence.

The United States warned its citizens on Saturday against visiting Gambia, whose white beaches are a draw for tourists, and told those there to considering leaving.

“The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to The Gambia because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future,” the statement said.

Jammeh, a former coup leader who has ruled Gambia for 22 years, initially accepted his defeat by opposition figure Adama Barrow in the Dec. 1 election. But a week later reversed his position, vowing to hang onto power despite a wave of regional and international condemnation. (NAN)

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