Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Muhammadu Buhari and Macky Sall of Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal respectively have ended a one-day talk in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, aimed at resolving the political stalemate in The Gambia.
A dispatch from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja says President Buhari of Nigeria hosted the one-day meeting, also attended by Mr. John Mahama, the immediate pastPresident of Ghana, Mr. Marcel de Souza, Presidentof the ECOWAS Commission and special representatives from the United Nations and African Union.
The meeting came ten days to the January 19th inauguration of President-Elect of The Gambia, Mr. Adama Barrow. Outgoing President Yahya Jammeh who lost the December 1 electionand had earlier conceded defeat, however recanted a week later, and is now asking for fresh polls to be conducted.
Sub-regional leaders at the just-concluded 49th ECOWAS Summit held on December 17 in Abuja under the Chairmanship of President Sirleaf designatedPresident Buhari as the Mediator for The Gambia andthe immediate past President of Ghana, Mr. Mahama as Co-Mediator.
According to the dispatch, the leaders on Monday deliberated on the current state of affairs in The Gambia and therefore agreed on their determination to resolve the political crisis in a manner that in every step of the way conforms with the Constitution of The Gambia and respects the will of the people of that country.
The dispatch adds that the three West African leaders, after over four hours of intensive closed door meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, resolved to within two days send some ECOWAS leaders to The Gambia to discuss with outgoing President Jammeh the imperative to respect the Constitution.
Last month’s49th ECOWAS Summit also gave the terms of reference of President Buhari and former President Mahama to include ensuring the safety of President-elect, Barrow, the political leaders and the entire population.
President Sirleaf will therefore again lead President Buhari, the Mediator on The Gambia, and hopefully President Ernest Bai Koromo of Sierra Leone to Bangul on Wednesday, January 11, 2016. Others to form part of the ECOWAS leaders’ delegation include the Co-Mediator, former President Mahama, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. de Souza and special representatives of the United Nations and African Union.
Recall that last month, President Sirleaf led an ECOWAS-leader delegation including Presidents Buhari, Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone and Mr. Mahama to Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, where they met with President Jammeh, President Elect Barrow and other stakeholders.
Speaking on the outcome of the discussion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, said the sub-regional leaders expressed particular concern over the deteriorating situation that has been reported in respect to security in The Gambia.
In particular, the West African leaders expressed concern over the closure of some of the radio stations and media houses in The Gambia, the arrests of some people and also the refugee situation that is being created with the mass exodus of Gambians into the interior parts of the country and to other neighboring countries.
Monday’s meeting in Abuja followed the one in Accra, Ghanaon Saturday, January 7, 2017on the sidelines of the inauguration of that country’s new President, Nana Akufo-Addo.