The African Union Monday awarded a certificate of appreciation to the sub-regional bloc, ECOWAS, for the extra-ordinary efforts in peacefully resolving the recent political impasse and defending democratic transition in The Gambia.

The award took place at the ongoing 28th AU Summit in the Ethiopia capital, Addis Ababa which opened on Monday.

The outgoing Chair of the African Union Commission Dr. Dlamini Zuma called on ECOWAS leaders up onto the stage and awarded the sub-regional bloc with the Certificate of Appreciation after which the general body and delegates in the hall accorded a round of applause to ECOWAS for the work done in The Gambia.

Dr. Zuma expressed gratitude to ECOWAS, who stood by the people of The Gambia and defended the values and principles of the African Union.

“We are particularly proud, that it was under your stewardship, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as our first elected female President. Our thank you to all those who participated, the President of Mauritania and others, and who remained steadfast” she said.

Outgoing African Union Chairperson and Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno handed over the award to the Chairwoman of the Authority of Heads of Sates of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

It could be recalled that the Gambia crisis started after the December 2016 election in which former President Yahya Jammeh was defeated by President Adama Barrow. Mr Jammeh conceded and week later, rejected the results and refused to step down when his term ends. The sub-regional bloc, ECOWAS, immediately formed a mediation team led by Nigerian President Muhammadou Buhari along with former Ghanaian President John Mahama, Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to mediate and resolve the crisis.

All attempts by ECOWAS failed to convince Mr Jammeh though resulting to a deployment of military forces to remove Mr Jammeh. Until in the last minutes, Guinean President Alpha Conde and Mauritanian President Muhamed Ould Abdel Aziz under ECOWAS permission intervened and finally convince Mr Jammeh, avoiding any military operation.

Today, former President Yahya Jammeh has stood down and in exile in Equatorial Guinea.