- Approach to conform with The Gambian Constitution
For the second time in less than one month, President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria will on Wednesday lead two other West African presidents and other citizens to meet with Gambia’s President, Yahaya Jammeh.
The decision to visit Jammeh again was informed by the outcome of Monday’s strategic meeting which held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on how to ensure peaceful handover of powers on January 19.
Mr. Buhari in his capacity as mediator in chief will travel with his counterparts, Ellen Sirleaf of Liberia and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra-Leone, as well as the immediate past President of Ghana, John Mahama, to the Gambia to meet with Mr. Jammeh.
It would be recalled that Mr. Jammeh lost the December 1, 2016 Gambia presidential election to opposition candidate Adama Barrow.
He initially accepted defeat and congratulated Mr. Barrow but later changed his mind and decided to challenge the outcome of the election.
He also vowed not to handover to the winner as expected on January 19.
A meeting of the West African regional body, ECOWAS, in Abuja in December appointed Messrs. Buhari and Mahama as negotiators.
The regional body had earlier met with Jammeh in the Gambia but the outcome of the meeting was not what the West African leaders wanted.
The ECOWAS leaders met again on the sidelines of Saturday’s inauguration of Ghana’s newly elected president, Nana Akufor-Addo, and agreed to meet in Abuja on Monday on the invitation of President Buhari.
The outcome of the Monday meeting is what will take the presidents to Gambia on Wednesday.
Briefing reporters at the end of the meeting, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geofrey Onyeama, said the meeting agreed on the “determination to resolve The Gambian political crisis in a manner that every step of the way conforms to the constitution of The Gambia and respect the will of the people of The Gambia.”
He said the leaders expressed particular concern at the “deteriorating situation that has been reported in respect of security in The Gambia in particular, the closure of some of the radio stations and media houses, arrests that have been taking place and also the refugee situation that is being created with the mass exodus of a large number of people to the interior and to neighbouring countries”.
Mr. Onyeama said apart from the presidents, other members of the delegation to the Gambia include the President of the ECOWAS Commission, the Special Representatives of United Nations, and also a Representative of the African Union.
“So, this meeting will take place in two days time on Wednesday to discuss with President Jammeh the need and the imperative to respect the constitution”.
The president of Senegal, Macky Sall, also attended Monday’s meeting which held at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.