By Jonathan Isaiah
President Muhammad Buhari will, today, join other West African leaders, led by Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in The Gambia, in a push for peaceful democratic transition in the country.
The delegation is expected to prevail on The Gambia’s long-ruling leader Yahya Jammeh, to accept his election defeat and step down.
The UN Security Council made the plan known while briefing newsmen after a closed-door meeting by the 15 members on the political situation in The Gambia.
Deputy Permanent Representative of Spain, Mr Juan Manuel De Linares, said the members of the council stood by their unanimous statement on December 10 that Jammeh should commence the peaceful transfer of power to Barrow without further delay.
“A delegation by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to ECOWAS (Mohammed Ibn Chambas) and other ECOWAS and AU leaders will lead high-level delegation to Banjul tomorrow,” he said.
The Presidency had yet to confirm President Buhari’s trip to The Gambia at press time yesterday.
Senior special adviser on media to the president, Femi Adesina, while responding to enquiries by LEADERSHIP, yesterday, said a statement would be issued.
Jammeh, after ruling Gambia for 22 years, lost his 5th reelection bid to coalition candidate, Adama Barrow.
The show of unity by regional leaders came as diplomats said the United Nations Security Council would meet behind closed doors later to discuss Jammeh’s refusal to hand over power.
Jammeh had quickly conceded defeat to his challenger, Adama Barrow in the December 1 presidential election, but in a volte-face that drew international condemnation, he then said he would challenge the result in the Supreme Court.
The election was widely regarded as a chance to end repression in a country seen by many as a police state.
Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel peace laureate and current chair of the West African regional body ECOWAS, will be accompanied by President Buhari, John Mahama of Ghana and Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma.
Reuters quoted Senegal’s foreign ministry to have said in a statement that, “These heads of state will ask him to leave power.”
Senegal, which is Gambia’s neighbour, called the trip “a last chance mission for Jammeh.”
Gambia’s Communications Minister Sheriff Bojang was not reachable for comment on Monday.
“We Want Peace”
Barrow told Reuters in the capital Banjul that Jammeh had made a mistake, shocking the world, and said he hoped Johnson Sirleaf’s delegation would ensure an “expedited transitional period” that paved the way for a transfer of power.
“We are not talking about a military option. We want to safeguard our democracy and we want peace,” he said, but added that he was concerned for his own security.
“I have no official security. As president-elect, I should not be exposed in the way I am today,” he said.
Barrow said he had not had any communication with Jammeh’s government since the president’s televised announcement on Friday.
Jammeh seized power in a coup in 1994 when he was an army lieutenant and has ruled ever since, wining four elections that were criticized by rights monitors and surviving several coup attempts. International human rights groups accuse him of widespread violations and repression
He declared Gambia an Islamic Republic last year and in October announced its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.
A statement from Barrow’s opposition coalition called for Jammeh to step down immediately.
Before his surprise change of mind, he had pledged to hand over power to Barrow in January following the transitional period dictated by Gambian law.
Gambia has no sitting Supreme Court, and so in order to hear Jammeh’s complaint, legal experts believe at least four judges must be hired.
“We do not recognise that the outgoing president has the constitutional authority in the last days of his presidency, to appoint any Supreme Court judges in the Gambia for the purpose of receiving his petition,” opposition figure Mai Fatty said.
The United States, European Union, African Union, United Nations and ECOWAS have all pressed Jammeh to respect the result.
Source: News Now Leadership Online