West African bloc tells Jammeh to cede presidency or face ouster

Troops from Senegal and other West African countries crossed into The Gambia after an initial deadline for Mr Jammeh to stand down passed with his resignation.

Plans to conduct the ceremony in the national stadium in Banjul have been canceled, but the inauguration is set to take place Thursday afternoon at the Gambian embassy in Senegal.

West African regional forces announced they were preparing for a possible military deployment to Gambia in the event that Jammeh refused to step down.

Children watch Senegalese soldiers on Friday in the town of Karang, Senegal, near the border with Gambia. ECOWAS had given Jammeh until Friday to step down.

The Gambia's new president, former real estate agent Adama Barrow, took the oath of office on Thursday-but in neighboring Senegal.

Because the vote was while he was legally still president, it is technically valid under Gambian law.

Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup and whose mandate ended overnight, initially conceded defeat to Barrow following a December 1 election before back-tracking, saying the vote was flawed. Mr. Jammeh's five year Presidential term, as stipulated by Gambia's constitution expired at midnight Gambian time on Wednesday.

Gambians gather at Westfield junction to celebrate the swearing-in of Gambia

He ordered soldiers to stay calm and remain in their barracks and said that those who did not would be considered rebels.

At the same a United Nations security council resolution unanimously backed the action against Jammeh although it should be by "by political means first" and made no mention of force.

Badjie told Reuters by telephone that he would welcome, not fight, the regional West African forces, ECOWAS.

His personal plane was parked on the runway at Banjul airport and said to have been refuelled in anticipation of a sudden exit. There were several military checkpoints in town and police circulated in trucks.

In conclusion, the South African Government expressed it hope that President Adama Barrow returns to his country to assume the role democratically bestowed on him by the people of The Gambia. Marcel Alain de Souza of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, said the troops would force Jammeh from office if he refused to leave voluntarily.

ECOWAS, a regional bloc of 15 states including Gambia, has instructed Senegal to lead an intervention if Jammeh does not peacefully hand over power. Aircraft, troops and a warship have also been deployed by Nigeria, raising fears of an all-out conflict.

Mr Jammeh now faces nearly total diplomatic isolation and a government that has all but collapsed from defections.

  • Tracy Klein