The stage seems set for the forceful sack of President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia by the combined forces of the ECOWAS region, led by Senegal and Nigeria.
Early signals to that effect emerged Wednesday as Senegalese authorities announced their readiness to storm Banjul mid-night Wednesday to force out Jammeh if he refuses to quit, having reneged on promises to leave power after losing the December presidential elections in the country.
“Our troops are on alert… The ultimatum takes effect at midnight…If a political solution fails, we will engage,” a Senegalese army source reportedly told members of the international media on Wednesday.
The Nigerian military lent further weight to what might be in the offing for Jammeh as it also confirmed on Wednesday that its troops were already on ground in Senegal to enforce the position of West African leaders that the troubled helmsman must quit on due date, January 19.
The Nigerian Air Force, in a statement credited to its spokesman, Ayodele Famuyiwa, said, “The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has deployed to Senegal as part of Nigerian contingent of Economic Community of West African States Military Intervention in Gambia (ECOMIG) – a standby force tasked by ECOWAS Heads of State to enforce the December 1, 2016 election mandate in the The Gambia.
Read also: Gambia’s Vice President steps down
“The NAF today moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, Light Utility Helicopter as well as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircraft to Dakar from where it is expected to operate into Gambia,” he added.
Jammeh’s travails began soon after he reneged on promise to hand-over power to opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, who roundly trounced him in the presidential election.
Citing irregularities, he alleged that the polls had been conducted by electoral officers who were not God-fearing. Many had put a lie to his claims, tracing his conduct to fears that he would be probed by Barrow who had made subtle reference to future plans of investigating the out-going administration.
Jammeh’s strategy to cling on to power has been to seek the intervention of The Gambian Supreme Court and National Assembly. While the courts have so far failed him, the legislature has since granted his regime a three-month extension to remain in power.
The political impasse in The Gambia has seen the resignation of the Vice President, Isatou Njie-Saidy, and four serving ministers.
Gambia’s deepening crisis has forced thousands of tourists and foreign nationals to flood the Banjul airport in an effort to return home according to journalist Alhagie Jobe who reported Njie’s resignation on Twitter.
Will Jammeh resist the West African forces or yield to diplomatic pressures? The clock ticks even as Barrow is ensconced in Senegal awaiting the overthrow of ‘stubborn’ Jammeh.
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