Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban with REUTERS
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been denied access to Gambia’s main airport, Senegal’s foreign minister said on independent radio on Saturday.
The plane of Sirleaf who is Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was not allowed to land at the Banjul airport according to the minister.
Reuters reports that even though the reason for the denial was unclear, as was the intended timing of the plane landing, ECOWAS had been hoping to play a role in creating a smooth transition of power in the Gambia.
This action is a reprehensible and unacceptable breach of faith with the people of The Gambia and an egregious attempt to undermine a credible election process and remain in power illegitimately.
This development is the latest twist to the country’s December 1 presidential polls which the incumbent Yahya Jammeh lost to businessman Adama barrow. Jammeh on December 9 announced that the elections will have to be rerun citing irregularities.
The African Union in an earlier statement described Jammeh’s move as ‘null and void’ urging him to ensure the smooth transition of power as a sign of respect for the will of the Gambian people. Senegal also condemned Jammeh’s position urging him to peacefully give up power.
United States and European Union deplore Jammeh’s U-turn
The EU described Jammeh’s ‘‘calling for new elections is unacceptable. It clearly goes against the outcome of the elections of 1 December.
‘‘The European Union strongly urges President Jammeh to fully respect the rule of law and will of the Gambian people as expressed on Election Day, to stand by his earlier acceptance of the results and allow a peaceful transfer of power to the new President of The Gambia,’‘ their statement was issued by Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica.
The United States Department of State also issued a statement through Mark Toner, a deputy Department Spokesperson. The full text of the statement is as follows:
‘‘We strongly condemn President Jammeh’s December 9 statement rejecting the December 1 election results and calling for new elections. This action is a reprehensible and unacceptable breach of faith with the people of The Gambia and an egregious attempt to undermine a credible election process and remain in power illegitimately.
‘‘We call upon President Jammeh, who accepted the election results on December 2, to carry out an orderly transition of power to President-Elect Barrow in accordance with the Gambian constitution.
‘‘We call upon all institutions in The Gambia, including the elected leadership, the armed forces, religious leaders, political parties and civil society organizations to reject violence and peacefully uphold the will of the people that was expressed clearly through the ballot box.
‘‘The people have spoken and it is time for Gambians to come together to ensure a peaceful transition to President-elect Barrow,’‘ the statement concluded.