Two days before West African leaders gather in Abuja to discuss the fate of a small nation in post election crisis, Gambian leader has asked religious leaders in his country to preach peace and reconciliation as political division widens.
In his first public television appearance after “annulling” election results in the mainland Africa’s smallest nation, Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh has asked religious leaders to preach peace among their follower amid post election crisis in the country.
President Jammeh has lost election to a property developer Adama Barrow, according to IEC, and he accepted defeat but later rejected the results citing irregularities and ordered fresh elections.
His rejection has been met with tough condemnation from home and abroad and recent days have seen unprecedented civil disobedience in the country from various professional organizations.
“Gambia has been an example in the world in terms of peace and I want us to ensure that that continues. Let’s keep the peace that we are known for,” he said on national television on Thursday night.
“I want only peace. That is why I called you religious leaders to this meeting because people listen to you more than us politicians.”
Few days ago four West African leaders, President Muhammed Buhari of Nigeria, John Mahama of Ghana, Allen Jonson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Bai Koroma of Serra Leone, have arrived in the country to asked Jammeh to step down but with no success.
Leaders from the Economic Community of West Africa regional bloc will gather on Saturday in Nigeria to discuss the situation in Gambia.
In his message of peace to the religious leaders, Jammeh made reference to Syria, Iraq and other countries that were ravaged by war.
“We have lived in the most turbulent region of Africa for 22 years with absolute peace and stability and we should not allow that to be destroyed. As religious leaders, family heads, we have a stake in making sure that we avoid conflict,” Jammeh said.
“I am not talking to you out of fear or anything I am talking to you because I swore to the holy Quran that I will not see Gambians children’s go to a refugee camp; that is not my wish because I know what that means. That’s why I called on all of you for us to sit and talk as family and you being spiritual leaders to go and talk to the country and try and reunify all of us and reconcile.”
Many say Jammeh’s relations with Christians in the country was bad since he declared the small nation an Islamic State and before meeting him, the Christian community has met with the president elect Barrow though their issues of discussion was not known to the media.
However, Jammeh accused unspecified sources for attempts to ruin his relations with Christians in the country saying, “I have nothing against Christians”.
Since Jammeh’s announcement that he has annulled the election results, there has been steady but peaceful rise of civil disobedience in the small nation.
The Gambia Bar Association, Teachers Union, Gambia Association of Public Health Officers, Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gambia Press Union and host of other institutions have joined the call.