Ecowas says ‘could send troops’ if Yahya Jammeh refuses to go

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The sub-regional grouping – Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says military intervention in The Gambia is ‘possible’ if outgoing President Yahya Jammeh does not step down.

Marcel de Souza told French based RFI Radio that diplomacy is the preferred path as at now but ‘draconian’ measures would have to be considered if it failed.

On Tuesday, four West African leaders of Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone and UN Africa envoy were in Banjul to persuade outgoing President Jammeh to step down.

Asked whether Ecowas would consider sending troops into The Gambia, Mr de Souza told Radio France Internationale: “We have done it in the past. We currently have troops in Guinea-Bissau with the Ecomib mission. We have had troops in Mali. And therefore it is a possible solution.”

Mr Jammeh who lost the December 1st Presidential elections to opposition coalition leader Adama Barrow initially accepted defeat before changing his mind.

The commission said Mr Barrow obtained 222,708 votes (43.3%) compared with Mr Jammeh’s 208,487 (39.6%). A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 89,768 votes (17.1%).

Mr Jammeh, who has ruled the country for 22 years, has questioned the validity of the count after the electoral commission changed some results, even though the electoral body still insists that the results represent the true will of the people and that Jammeh lost.

Meanwhile, President-elect Barrow has welcomed the regional intervention, saying he hoped Mr Jammeh would give up power.

By Alhagie Jobe