Friday 20 October 2017

Gambia leader declares 90-day state of emergency

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to step down despite international pressure (AP)
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh is refusing to step down despite international pressure (AP)

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has declared a state of emergency, just two days before he is supposed to cede power after losing elections last month.

Mr Jammeh is refusing to step down despite international pressure and the threat by other West African nations of a military intervention.

The 90-day state of emergency was announced on state television on Tuesday and will begin immediately.

Mr Jammeh is blaming what he calls the unprecedented level of foreign involvement in Gambia's election.

President-elect Adama Barrow, the man who ousted Mr Jammeh in the December election, is vowing to take power on Thursday despite Mr Jammeh's refusal to leave.

Mr Jammeh says the country must wait for Gambia's supreme court to decide on the ruling party's challenge to the election results, a delay that could take months.

On Monday, Gambia's chief justice recused himself and said he could not rule on Mr Jammeh's request for an injunction blocking Mr Barrow's inauguration.

Meanwhile, members of Mr Jammeh's cabinet are fleeing.

Gambia's foreign affairs minister, along with the ministers of finance, trade and environment, all have resigned, a political official in Banjul said on Tuesday.

The country's information minister earlier went into exile in Senegal.

Mr Jammeh has ruled Gambia for more than 22 years.

He initially went on state television to concede his election defeat, only to make a dramatic about-face a week later.

West Africa's regional bloc has a standby force for possible military intervention if Mr Jammeh does not step down when his mandate ends this week.

The regional bloc, Ecowas, has urged Mr Barrow to stay in Dakar, Senegal, until Thursday's inauguration for his safety.

He was unable to leave Senegal on Monday to attend the funeral for his seven-year-old son, who was fatally mauled by a dog a day earlier.

AP

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