Gambia president urged to relinquish power

BANJUL: Nobel peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and other African leaders on Tuesday urged Gambia’s long-ruling President Yahya Jammeh to respect the will of the people and step down following his defeat in an election.
Jammeh, who seized power in a coup in 1994, has declined to relinquish power despite initially conceding that he had lost to opponent Adama Barrow in the election on December 1. He cited irregularities in the official results and on Tuesday morning security forces took over the building of the Independent Electoral Commission which holds the original poll records, its chairman said.
Jammeh’s change of mind drew international criticism, and a delegation of West African leaders under the auspices of the regional body ECOWAS was in the capital Banjul on Tuesday on a mission to resolve the crisis.
“We hope that the will of the people prevails,” Johnson Sirleaf, who is Liberia’s president and ECOWAS chairwoman, told reporters on arrival.
Other heads of state taking part are Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s John Mahama, who lost an election last week and conceded defeat.
“We will be asking President Jammeh to respect his country’s Constitution, and to maintain the inviolability of the electoral process,” Buhari said on Twitter. Diplomats say that if Jammeh seeks to cling to power after negotiations fail, neighbours might consider options for removing him by force. — Reuters