SENEGAL will lead military intervention to oust The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh, if he refuses to step down when his mandate expires on January 19, a senior official of the West African regional grouping Ecowas has said.
“Stand-by forces” were on alert and would be deployed “to restore the people’s wish” if mediators, led by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, failed to persuade Jammeh to give up power, said Marcel Alain de Souza, the chairman of the Ecowas commission.
He added that it was not Ecowas’ “wish to set alight the zone” and if Jammeh “loves” his people, he should “negotiate an exit door calmly”:
De Souza said:
“If it doesn’t happen, the most radical means will be used.”
Jammeh initially conceded victory to property developer and opposition candidate Adama Barrow in the December 1, election, but he later called for the election to be annulled, alleging that it was marred by irregularities.
The Supreme Court has set January 10, as a date for a case brought by Jammeh’s party to cancel the result.
For his part, Jammeh has said only Allah can deny him victory.
In comments broadcast on state television late Tuesday, Jammeh said he was prepared to die for what he believes in, and said he was prepared to defend himself and The Gambia.
Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994 and retained it with an iron fist ever since, crushing his political opponents, human rights activists and critical journalists with lengthy jail terms, torture or death.