ECOWAS Leaders to Meet in Abuja Saturday over Gambia

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• UN, AU, ECOWAS urge Jammeh to step down
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will meet in Abuja on Saturday to continue discussion on how to resolve the impasse in The Gambia.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, said the  coalition of seven political parties that produced Adama Barrow, President-elect of The Gambia, looked earnestly up to  President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria to deploy his vast experience, alongside other African leaders, to resolve the political logjam in the tiny West African country.

Speaking with the media during the high-level ECOWAS /AU/UN Joint Mission to The Gambia on Tuesday, Hamad Bah, one of the coalition members, declared: “We need the experience of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in many ways. Like President Jammeh, he is a former military officer, so he knows how the military thinks, and would be able to talk to him appropriately.

“Again, President Buhari was in the opposition in Nigeria for about 12 years, before he won election in 2015. So, he also knows how the opposition thinks. He can feel what we feel. We are quite glad that President Buhari is here, it gives us a lot of hope.”

Adesina said the high-level team held a series of meetings that lasted the whole of Tuesday, met with President Yahya Jammeh twice, conferred with Barrow, consulted with security chiefs, members of the diplomatic community, leadership of the electoral commission, and many other interest groups.

According to him, the consensus was that President Jammeh needed to respect the result of the December 1 election, which he had earlier accepted, congratulated the winner, only to recant a week later, calling for fresh polls “to be conducted by a God-fearing electoral commission.”

Adesina said the Joint ECOWAS-AU-UN team, made of President Buhari, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia (current Chairperson of ECOWAS), President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, outgoing President John Mahama of Ghana, and Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, (UN Special Representative for West Africa), encouraged Jammeh to reconsider his rejection of the election results citing “tallying errors” and his call for new elections.

Jammeh was also urged to hand over power “within constitutional deadlines, and in accordance with electoral laws of The Gambia.”
Adesina quoted Johnson-Sirleaf as saying that discussions on The Gambian impasse would continue, as ECOWAS leaders meet in Abuja this Saturday.