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20 January 2017

Gambia crisis: Jammeh misses second deadline to step down

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Another ultimatum for The Gambia’s long-term leader to leave office or be forced out by UN-backed troops expired at 16:00 GMT.

The presidents of Guinea and Mauritania remain locked in talks with defeated President Yahya Jammeh, and have not issued any statements.

Mr Jammeh’s elected successor, Adama Barrow, was sworn in as president at a ceremony in Senegal on Thursday.

Troops acting in support of President Barrow have paused their advance.

The forces from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) regional grouping are backed by the United Nations.

They crossed into The Gambia from Senegal on Thursday but have been told not to advance further until the talks have finished.

Two deadlines, at 12:00 and 16:00 GMT, set by Ecowas for Mr Jammeh to leave, have now passed.

Mr Barrow’s legitimacy as president has been recognised internationally, after he won last month’s elections.

Mr Jammeh remains at the state house in The Gambia’s capital, where soldiers are calm, the BBC’s Umaru Fofana reports.

The head of the Gambian army, Gen Ousman Badjie, told reporters that he now recognises Mr Barrow as commander-in-chief.

His forces would not fight the Ecowas troops, he told Reuters, but instead would “welcome them with flowers and make them a cup of tea”.

However, Gen Badjie has little influence over an elite unit of fighters, called the Gambia National Guard, who analysts say may opt to fight even if vastly outnumbered by the Senegalese and Nigerian forces, as they are from the same ethnic group as Mr Jammeh.

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Senegalese troops – seen here at a Red Cross camp in Senegal – are among those to have crossed into The Gambia
Mr Jammeh’s term expired at midnight on Wednesday – but, while still president, he engineered a parliamentary vote to extend his presidency. As Mr Barrow has already been sworn in, the country could be said to have two presidents.
The threat by the West African regional bloc Ecowas to remove Mr Jammeh by force is supported by the 15-member UN Security Council, although the council has stressed that a political solution should be the priority
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On Thursday, supporters of the new president celebrated at Westfield Junction in Banjul

Tourists have been evacuated from The Gambia and the UK’s Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to the West African country.

In his inaugural speech at the Gambian embassy in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, President Barrow ordered all members of The Gambia’s armed forces to remain in their barracks.

Any found illegally bearing arms would be considered “rebels”, he said.

source: BBC

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