Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Saturday said that West African leaders are still pursuing mediation to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in The Gambia where President Yahya Jammeh has refused to accept defeat in an election last month.

According to Reuters, Sirleaf told reporters after a meeting among regional leaders in Ghana’s capital Accra that regional bloc ECOWAS did not yet intend to deploy its standby military force in Gambia.

“We are committed to a peaceful mediation and a peaceful transfer of power in the Gambia… we will continue to pursue that for now,” said Sirleaf who chairs the 15-member body said.

Asked if the regional group would deploy a standby force soon, she said “no”, adding that ECOWAS was closely monitoring proceedings in Gambia’s Supreme Court where Jammeh is challenging the poll result.

Jammeh, a former coup leader who has ruled Gambia for 22 years, initially accepted his defeat by opposition figure Adama Barrow in the December 1 election. But a week later reversed his position, vowing to hang onto power despite a wave of regional and international condemnation.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the United Nations’ top official in West Africa, also attended the special closed-door meeting, which was the first official engagement by Ghana’s new President Nana Akufo-Addo who was sworn in on Saturday.