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Saturday, December 17, 2016

ECOWAS seeks swift resolution to political impasse in Gambia

West African leaders called Saturday for a swift resolution of the political impasse in The Gambia after disputed elections in which long-term president Yahya Jammeh is refusing to concede defeat. The appeal came at the 50th summit of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Nigeria, attended by 11 heads of state but without the leaders of four members including The Gambia.

Opposition leader Adama Barrow was declared winner of the December 1 polls and Jammeh initially conceded defeat, only to reverse his decision a week later, condemning “unacceptable errors” by election authorities and calling for a new vote. Gambian security forces seized the country’s Independent Electoral Commission earlier this week, drawing international condemnation.

On Saturday Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the current ECOWAS chairperson, said in Abuja that the regional economic group would push for prompt resolution of the crisis. “It is now important that the Authority, at this summit, considers recommended measures to bring this matter to successful conclusion before January 19, the constituted date when the mandate of the incumbent president expires,” Sirleaf told the summit.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the UN top envoy for West Africa, said the global body would support efforts to resolve the election logjam. “The UN remains concerned by some of the worrisome developments that occurred during the post election period in The Gambia,” Chambas said after the summit was declared open by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in his country’s capital.

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