Dakar – The Gambia stopped Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leader of a regional mission, from entering the country on Saturday after a U-turn by the former’s long-term ruler over election results, an official said.
Yahya Jammeh, president of The Gambia for 22 years, announced on Friday he would no longer accept defeat in a recent ballot, plunging the West African nation into turmoil and demanding fresh polls.
Sirleaf, who currently heads the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), was headed to The Gambia but her plane was not allowed to land, amid a heavy deployment of security forces.
“Yahya Jammeh has prevented the landing of the Ecowas president’s plane,” Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye, referring to Sirleaf, told private television channel TFM.
Ahead of Jammeh’s statement, the atmosphere tightened in Banjul, and on Saturday troops and police were on the streets and barricades were erected at strategic places, according to an AFP correspondent.
Jammeh, speaking on state television late Friday, said a probe into the December 1 vote had revealed “unacceptable errors” from electoral authorities, and he would no longer concede to his opponent Adama Barrow.
Senegal’s foreign ministry on Friday criticised Jammeh’s change of heart, saying it “rejected and condemned” his remarks and was “surprised” by them.
“Senegal demands that the outgoing president unconditionally respect the democratic choice freely expressed by the Gambian people,” the ministry said in a statement.
It urged the authorities to “organise a peaceful transmission of power and ensure the security and physical integrity of the newly elected president,” referring to Barrow.
SOURCE: News 24