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Isolated and alone Jammeh desperately clings to power

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Isolated and alone Jammeh desperately clings to power AFRICA / 20 January 2017, 09:58am Mel Frykberg Ex-Gambian president Yahya Jammeh, who came into power during a military coup in 1994, showed no signs on Friday morning of relinquishing his grip on power. File picture: AP Johannesburg – Ex-Gambian President Yahya Jammeh stands alone and isolated after being given a deadline of midday on Friday to evacuate the presidency to make way for President-elect Adama Barrow. Barrow was inaugurated on Thursday in neighbouring Senegal, where he fled after Jammeh refused to concede defeat in last December’s presidential elections during which Barrow secured 45 percent of the vote. However, Jammeh who came into power during a military coup in 1994 showed no signs on Friday morning of relinquishing his grip on power. This despite Senegalese troops, part of a regional force from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which crossed into The Gambia late Thursday night, in the capital Banjul warning they would remove him by force, Sky News reported. On Thursday night the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) approved ECOWAS’ intervention. Urging all Gambian parties to respect the outcome of the 1 December elections the UNSC expressed its support for the commitment of West African States to “ensure, by political means first, respect of the will of the people”. The ECOWAS regional force had been waiting on The Gambian border for the go ahead and overnight convoys of Senegalese military vehicles were seen moving into the country to take up positions. According to media and social reports Jammeh’s wife and children have fled the country, like thousands of other Gambians including judicial, military and political figures, while his vice-president has resigned. There is debate over whether the Gambian military will stand by Jammeh after the army chief Ousman Badije prevaricated repeatedly about supporting Barrow and Jammeh respectively, with his last pledge of allegiance to the latter. However, in an interview with the African News Agency (ANA) The Gambia’s political counsellor at the Gambian Embassy in Pretoria said that he doubted the rank and file of the military would follow Badije’s orders and would ultimately support the will of the Gambian people. Unconfirmed reports of the military switching allegiance to Barrow have since filtered in. In any event even in the questionable scenario that Gambian security forces side with Jammeh, they would be no military match for ECOWAS. Meanwhile, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz was set to return to Banjul on Friday and expected to escort Jammeh out of the country, possibly to neighbouring Guinea before he decides which country he will settle in. In previous negotiations between Jammeh and Abdel Aziz, Jammeh had laid down a number of conditions. These included permission to stay in his hometown of Kanilai, amnesty from persecution being extended to his family and staff, and a demand to keep all of his assets. The request to remain in Kanilai was refused. There are, however, suggestions that Jammeh may choose exile in Nigeria while Morocco has also offered to host him. His personal plane was parked on the runway at Banjul airport and said to have been refuelled in anticipation of a sudden exit. While it may have been a very long and lonely night for Jammeh, he did receive support from some unexpected, but not surprising quarters. Perhaps feeling the heat Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who according to critics questionably won last February’s presidential elections in Uganda extending his rule in power to over 30 years, tweeted that The Gambia was a sovereign nation and condemned ECOWAS’ military action. Meanwhile, the war on social media heated up too with many Africans expressing pride in the decisive and firm action taken by ECOWAS. Others slammed the African Union (AU) for failing to take decisive action in other African states where despots remain in power while simultaneously ignoring repeated atrocities across the continent. African News Agency

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