The president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, has on Saturday urged President Yahya Jammeh to step down and avoid pushing his country into a “bloodbath”.
Gambia was plunged into a crisis after President Jammeh rejected the election results a week after conceding to Adama Barrow during the country’s December 1 polls in which he was declared the loser.
Jammeh said the electoral process was tainted with “unacceptable irregularities” and filed a petition seeking to annul the results.
“On January 19, I dare to hope that African wisdom will convince our brother (Jammeh) that the good Muslim that he claims to be understands the greater good for The Gambia, which does not need a bloodbath,” President of Mali Keita told journalists.
The mediators of the West African economic bloc, ECOWAS, who were in Gambia on January 13 have failed to reach a deal for the second time since the crisis began on December 9.
The regional mediators- President Allen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, President John Mahama of Ghana- later flew to Bamako with Barrow where Gambia’s president elect held talks with regional leaders including France President Francois Hollande.
The leaders said the Gambian deadline remains January 19, when they hope to solve the Gambian political crisis, Radio France Internationale quoted Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe as saying.
French President Francois Hollande, who met Barrow at the summit, said the Gambian election result had to be respected.
“You have seen that the president-elect was welcomed at this summit and everything must be done so that on January 18, or on January 19, he is able to effectively take up his new role,” he said.
On Friday, Geoffrey Onyeama, the Nigerian foreign minister, has told journalists in Banjul that the ECOWAS heads of states will take a decision on Gambia after their meeting in Bamako.
The summit co-organised by Mali and France was on security and migration but it was dominated by Gambia’s crisis.
Barrow is expected to take power on January 19 when Jammeh’s mandate runs out and the regional leaders have vowed to attend his inauguration.
“We have made a strong gesture. First, we have received the president,” Keita said, referring to Barrow.
The regional leaders have warned they are ready to use “all means necessary” to uphold the country’s December 1 polls results, but Jammeh vow he is ready to defend The Gambia against external aggression.
He has filed an injunction at the country’s Supreme Court seeking to stop Barrow’s inauguration until the court hears his petition that has been filed to annul the election.
The ruling on the injunction is likely on January 16 but the Gambia Bar Association has already warn that any attempt to stop the inauguration of the president elect will “tantamount to treason” under the Gambian law.
The African Union has said Friday that it will cease to recognize Jammeh as president after January 19.