Yahya Jammeh, long-time president of The Gambia, looks set to be caught in diplomatic cross-hairs with the African Union. After rejecting the results of the December elections which he lost, after initially accepting them with a concession speech on state TV, Jammeh is battling to cling on to power.
But after a meting in Addis Ababa today (Jan. 13), African Union’s Peace and Security Council announced it will no longer recognize Jammeh as president of Gambia after Jan. 19, the intended date for the inauguration of president-elect, Adama Barrow.
Disputing the election results due to anomalies, Jammeh has filed a petition with Gambia’s Supreme Court. However, due to a shortage of judges to hear the petition, the Supreme Court postponed hearing the petition until May, four months after the Jan. 19 handover date. As a result, Jammeh has said he will remain in office till then.
But in a stern statement, AU has warned of “serious consequences” if Jammeh’s insistence on hanging on to power “causes any crisis that could lead to political disorder, humanitarian and human rights disaster, including loss of innocent lives and destruction of properties.” AU’s announcement, possibly a pretext for the possible deployment of troops, is similar to the declaration by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that military force is an option should Jammeh stay on.
There’s one more chance for a diplomatic solution though as ECOWAS leaders are currently in The Gambia to foster talks for a peace resolution of the impasse. Should that happen, then on Jan. 19, for the first time ever, The Gambia will witness its first ever peaceful handover of power.