By Alhagie Jobe: Nigerian President Muhammadou Buhari who is also the chief mediator in Gambia’s political impasse will lead another delegation comprising three presidents to Banjul on Wednesday, January 11th, in what ECOWAS called ‘a final effort at resolution’, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has confirmed after the Nigeria meeting.
The meeting hosted on Monday in Abuja by Nigerian President Buhari on the Gambia situation was attended by Senegal’s Macky Sall, Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ghana’s former President John Mahama who is also a co-mediator and ECOWAS Commission President Marcel de Souza.
In his twitter feed after the meeting, the Nigerian chief diplomat said the Gambia mediation meeting is now over adding President Buahri will lead a delegation to discuss with President Jammeh on Wednesday, January 11th, in a final effort of the resolution.
“Leaders concerned about deteriorating Gambia situation especially closure of media organizations, arrests and looming refugee situation. The Gambia political crisis will be resolved in manner that conforms to the Constitution and respects the people’s will” Foreign Minister Onyeama said.
The ECOWAS bloc said last month it would take all necessary steps to uphold the result of a December 1st election in The Gambia, where incumbent President Yahya Jammeh says he will not step down after losing to opposition coalition Adama Barrow.
Jammeh initially accepted his loss in the December 1st election, but a week later changed his mind, saying the electoral commission had been biased by “foreign influences” and vowing to hang on despite regional and international condemnation. ECOWAS has since placed standby forces on alert in case Mr Jammeh attempts to stay in power after his mandate ends on January 19th.
Mr Jammeh called the bloc’s stance “a declaration of war”, and said he will defend himself. He said ECOWAS has no right to interfere in Gambia’s internal affairs, and that Gambians should await the outcome of a legal challenge that his APRC party has lodged at the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, Mr Jammeh’s hopes at the Supreme Court has been dashed away as the five Nigerian judges who were recently appointed and expected to sit over his APRC party election petition are no longer traveling to Banjul as expected.
A leak letter from the Nigerian acting Chief Justice Onnoghen sent to the Gambia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice reveals that justices are usually scheduled to sit in Gambia’s Supreme Court in the months of May and November.
“Based on this long established understanding, our court sitting schedule is usually drawn up with the consideration of this assignment. The dates of the court sittings in the Gambia are unfavorable and will greatly affect our case management” the letter from the acting Nigerian Chief Justice Onnoghen says.