ECOWAS Insists on Barrow’s Inauguration January 19, Directs Regional Heads to Attend

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As the deadlock over the political situation in The Gambia persist, heads of state and governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has vowed to take all necessary steps that would enforce the wish of the people of the country as reflected in the outcome of the December 1 general elections.

ECOWAS has therefore directed all heads of states to attend the inauguration of the President-elect Adama Barrow, whom they said, must be sworn in as president of The Gambia on the 19th of January 2017 in conformity with the country’s constitution. To this end, the Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ,urged leaders in the sub-region to come up with and consider recommended measures that would proffer a peaceful resolution of the impending crisis in Gambia.

These formed part of the outcomes of the 50th ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

In the communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, read by Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairperson, ECOWAS Council of Ministers, Marjon Kamara, ECOWAS while calling on Jammeh to accept the result of the polls and refrain from any action likely to compromise the transition and peaceful transfer of power to the President-elect, charged the Gambian defence and security forces to perform their role in a nationalistic manner and protect lives and property.

The authority further disclosed that in its bid to uphold the result of the December 1, 2016 election, it would guarantee the safety and protection of the president-elect.
While not foreclosing a peaceful resolution of the situation, the authority has set up a mediatory team to be headed by Nigeria’s President Buhari and assisted by John Mahama of Ghana.

The communiqué read in part: “The authority has considered the worrying political situation in The Gambia arising from the decision of his Excellency President Yahya Jammeh to reject the results of the presidential election of 1stDecember 2016 which had resulted in the election of Mr. Adama Barrow as the President-elect of the Gambia.”
Part 37 (f) reads: “That his Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President and commander in chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will serve as Mediator in the Gambia and his Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana as the Co-chair. The mediation process shall be conducted on the basis of terms of agreed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government.

ECOWAS is however seeking support from the international community by asking that the AU and the UN endorses all decisions taken on the matter of the Gambia, including the provision of technical assistance to the mediation efforts.

On the issue of peace, security and democracy in the region, the Authority, while affirming the importance of peace, security and stability for the economic development of the region, expressed deep concern over the serious humanitarian situation occasioned by Boko Haram attacks in the North-east which, according to them, has left over 7million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Accordingly, ECOWAS agreed to create a Special Solidarity Fund for the victims of terrorism and called on the international community to support the implementation of “Buhari Plan” for the rehabilitation and construction of the North-east of Nigeria.

The heads of state and government however agreed to hold the next ordinary session in Monrovia, Republic of Liberia on May 2017.

Highlight was the decision to set aside January 16 of every year as the ECOWAS Human Rights Day, in recognition of the ascension to power, Sirleaf as President of Liberia and first African Woman Head of State.
A total of 11 heads of state graced the occasion while four were represented.