ECOWAS softens position on Gambia

The chair of the West African economic bloc, Allen Johnson Sirleaf, has said they will explore diplomatic means in solving the country’s current political impasse.  

buhariThe West African regional bloc stands with the people of Gambia and will apply diplomatic solutions to solve the country’s political crisis, the body’s chair said Saturday.

The Economic Community of West African States has before threatened to send troops led by neighboring Senegal to Gambia if President Yahya Jammeh does not step down when his mandate ends on Jan. 19.

Jammeh lost to opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow and initially conceded, but later called for a new vote alleging “irregularities”.

READ MORE: “Partisan” ECOWAS can’t mediate Gambia crisis—President Jammeh

The United Nations, the United States, the European Union and others have united in criticizing him.

Jammeh’s party filed a petition to the country’s Supreme Court against the election, and a key court ruling is expected Jan. 10.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Saturday the West African bloc, which she chairs, hopes to help democracy prevail in Gambia.

“We want to apply diplomatic solutions to solve the problem,” Sirleaf said. Asked if troops would be moved into Gambia she responded, “No, we want to keep the region peaceful.”

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Sirleaf spoke at the inauguration of Ghana’s new president, where she met with other leaders from the regional bloc known as ECOWAS.

President Nana Akufo-Addo was sworn into office in Ghana’s capital on Saturday in a peaceful transition following the election last month in which he defeated the incumbent.

“We call on the people of Gambia to follow the example of Ghana by accepting democratic rule,” Sirleaf said.

Sirleaf said West Africa cannot go back to a time when most countries were under military rule.

“ECOWAS faces perhaps, the most difficult situation in The Gambia”, Johnson Sirleaf noted.

“We call on the people of The Gambia to follow the example of Ghana and put the interest of the nation above all personal interests. We stand with the people of The Gambia.”

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