West African Leaders Meet on Gambia Standoff as Deadline Looms

By Yinka Ibukun

ECOWAS Leaders IDiscussing Situation In The Gambia
ECOWAS Leaders IDiscussing Situation In The Gambia

The Economic Community of West African States meets in the Nigerian capital Monday to discuss how to get Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to step down next week without the bloc having to resort to force.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari hosts his Senegalese and Liberian counterparts in Abuja on Monday, according to a statement e-mailed by the Nigerian presidency. Sierra Leone Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh and former Ghanaian President John Mahama will also attend, it said.

The meeting follows discussions in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, on the sidelines of the inauguration of President Nana Akufo-Addo on Saturday, according to the statement. The bloc “expressed the readiness to continue the pursuit of dialogue with the leaders of the Gambia,” it said.

Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, has refused to accept he was defeated by the opposition in elections last month and Ecowas has threatened to use force if he doesn’t step down on Jan. 19. The bloc has vowed that regional heads of state will attend the inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow scheduled to take place on that date.

The U.S. State Department last week ordered employees and families to leave Gambia, citing possible violence linked to the contested election.

SOURCE: Bloomberg Online

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