By Alhagie Jobe
Yahya Jammeh’s government has refused entry and landing of the flight of the chair of sub-regional body ECOWAS and President of Liberia, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson amid the ongoing election dispute.
Senegal’s Foreign Minister Mankeu Ndiaye made the disclusre said on Saturday, dampening hopes for a political solution after President Yahya Jammeh rejected the results of elections that he lost on Dec. 1.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) chair Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had hoped to put back on track Gambia’s first democratic transition of power in over 50 years, but those plans appeared thwarted on Saturday when her plane was denied landing access at Banjul.
“Johnson Sirleaf was supposed to fly in today, but Jammeh said ‘not at the moment,'” Senegal FM Mankeur Ndiaye said. It was not clear if the plane had already taken off.
Jammeh on Friday called for another election in the country after narrowly losing to opposition leader Adama Barrow. He had already conceded defeat publicly last week.
The announcement on state television, GRTS TV, threw Gambia’s future into doubt after the unexpected election result ended Jammeh’s 22-year rule and was widely seen as a moment of democratic hope.
The streets of Banjul are calm on Saturday, although some residents said they were staying at home for fear of violence.
As Gambians brace for a tense standoff, international criticism of Jammeh’s claim came in fast. Following the United States and Senegal, the African Union on Saturday weighed in, calling Jammeh’s statement “null and void”.