By Alhagie Jobe: Leaders from the sub-regional bloc, ECOWAS, are meeting in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, this Saturday, January 7th, 2017 to take what they call a “major decision” on the political impasse in The Gambia, Nigerian Presidency spokesman confirmed on Friday.

“A major decision on the impasse is expected to be taken at that all-important meeting,” said Garba Shehu, spokesman for Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who is chief mediator to the political crisis.

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 st election, shocking Gambians who have lived through his repressive rule since he took power in a 1994 coup, and triggering celebrations in the streets. 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.

“President Buhari is the chief mediator of the crisis and he is committed to ensuring that the logjam is resolved” said Spokesman Shehu.

ECOWAS has since placed a 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.