The political turmoil and uncertainty in the tiny West African nation of the Gambia appears to be unfolding rapidly with several turns and a focus that sends chill in the spine of the country’s citizens, residents, and tourists.
Defeated presidential election incumbent, President Yahya Jammeh refusal to step down has brought the nation into the international spotlight. Meanwhile, Gambia’s new president Adama Barrow, alleged winner of the December pool took the oath of office in the country’s embassy in Senegal on Thursday.
Barrow was sworn in days after seeking shelter in Dakar with incumbent Yahya Jammeh still refusing to stand down after losing a December election.
The sub regional bloc known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) urge the Gambia’s defeated President Yahya Jammeh to cede power by noon on Friday or be dislodged by a regional force that has already moved into the country.
If Jammeh refuses to leave Gambia by midday the regional troops will force him out, said Marcel Alain de Souza, chairman of the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS.
Already, neighboring Senegalese troops have entered The Gambia to back Adama Barrow as president as strongman Jammeh refuses to stand down.
So far, the West African regional force that moved into Gambia Thursday evening has met no resistance, said de Souza. Per sources, the U.N. Security Council voted to approve the regional military intervention.
The Gambia’s Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, who has been in the role since 1997, has quit, a government source and a family member informed international media groups.
Ms. Saidy is the highest level official to abandon President Yahya Jammeh’s camp in his stand-off with opposition leader Adama Barrow, who won an election in December.
Several ambassadors and cabinet ministers, including Abubakar Senghore, Gambia’s minister for higher education, has also quit, per sources.
Several African nations have begun stepping away from Gambia’s longtime leader, who has refused to accept defeat.
Botswana, a Southern African nation said Thursday it does not recognize Yahya Jammeh as Gambia’s president. It made the announcement in a Facebook post as Jammeh’s mandate expired.
Botswana says Jammeh’s refusal to hand power over “undermines the ongoing efforts to consolidate democracy and good governance” in Gambia and Africa in general.
The African Union also earlier announced that the continental body would no longer recognize Jammeh once his mandate expired by end of this week.
More damaging to Jammeh was the fact that the Gambian army chief Ousman Badjie was seen celebrating on the street with supporters of the new leader, President Adama Barrow on Thursday, after promising his men would not fight approaching African troops.
Badjie appeared in the Westfield district close to the Gambian capital where Barrow supporters have gathered to dance and cheer following the inauguration of their new president.