… To Gambia; As Senegal Prepares Ground Troops
Nigeria’s newest warship, the NNS Unity, is sailing towards The Gambia ahead of possible military intervention over President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept election defeat and step down when his term expires on Thursday.
A Nigerian military source tells the BBC that the patrol vessel is currently sailing off the coast of Ghana after leaving from the commercial capital, Lagos.
The initial aim is to put on a show of force rather than to launch an attack.
Senegal is preparing ground troops ahead of Thursday’s deadline. The Gambia’s tiny army is no match for the regional powers.
In recent years, President Jammeh has been promoting his loyalists, including army Chief Ousman Badjie, to ranks beyond their competence. This has further downgraded its military capabilities.
The regional body, ECOWAS, has said military intervention will be a last resort to bring an end to the political deadlock in The Gambia.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has been leading mediation efforts to persuade Mr. Jammeh to hand power to former estate agent Adama Barrow, who won the 1 December election.
Meanwhile, Gambian Parliamentarians have passed a motion (resolution) calling on the ECOWAS Heads of State Authority to desist from using force to flush out Yahya Jammeh.
The resolution has barred the West African bloc from deploying troops to Banjul, to settle the political impasse.
Deputies agreed that peace should be encouraged to settle the political impasse and not through forceful means.
The MPS cited the issue of Gambia being a sovereign nation and the need for the country’s constitution to be respected by the African bloc.
Ruling APRC parliamentarians also called on ECOWAS to encourage member states to send the Supreme Court judges recently hired to hear Yahya Jammeh’s election petition.
The lawmakers said the pending case must be heard before any transfer of power could happen.
Mr. Jammeh has barely 48 hours to finish his five years mandate as stipulated by the very constitution the APRC MPS are invoking.
There is no provision in the Gambian constitution, which says a defeated incumbent cannot be replaced if he or she has a pending election petition before the courts.
President elect Adama Barrow, and his family have been hosted by the Senegalese government pending his official inauguration scheduled for Thursday, January 19, 2017.
Barrow and his Transition Team said the inauguration will go ahead on Thursday.