· UN Security Council approves resolution backing Barrow
· Ex-Leader Yahya Jammeh seeks amnesty deal to step down
Adama Barrow was sworn into office as the president of Gambia at a ceremony in neighboring Senegal as mediators sought to negotiate an amnesty deal with the outgoing leader to stave off military intervention by West African states.
Barrow, 51, decided to take his oath at the Gambian embassy in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, after Yahya Jammeh, who lost the presidential election, refused to leave office and called for new elections. The ceremony was broadcast live Thursday on Senegal’s RTS television.
“This is a victory of the Gambian nation,” Barrow said in his inaugural address. The armed forces should “demonstrate their loyalty to me as their commander-in-chief.”
The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday to “give full support” to the Economic Community of West African States to enforce the outcome of last month’s elections. Jammeh, who’s been in office since 1994 and once vowed to rule for a billion years, surprised the nation of fewer than 2 million people by acknowledging he lost the vote before changing his mind and casting doubt over the results.
Jammeh Seeks Deal
Keep up with the best of Bloomberg Politics.
Jammeh, 51, is negotiating a deal to step down with Mauritania’s president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, two people familiar with the situation said. He’s seeking a security detail and clearance to take his assets, the regional officials said, asking not to be identified because a public announcement hasn’t been made. His request to stay in his home village of Kanilai has been denied, they said. It wasn’t clear where he will go.
At the UN, the 15-member Security Council urged Jammeh to hand over power and called on regional countries to “cooperate with President Barrow in his efforts to realize the transition of power.” It warned the Gambian security forces to fulfill “their duty and obligation to place themselves at the disposal of the democratically elected authorities.”
Thousands of Gambians have fled to Senegal, piling mattresses, chairs and other household goods on taxis crossing the border, with the Senegalese government estimating that almost 30,000 people have arrived. Travel company Thomas Cook said it was flying back about 1,000 U.K. customers. Gambia depends on tourists from the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands for the bulk of its revenue.
Military personnel from Nigeria and Ghana have joined security forces in Senegal, which borders Gambia, to prepare for an intervention in the tiny country.
The regional states decided to prepare their troops for intervention after Jammeh declared a 90-day state of emergency late Tuesday. The African Union has said it would no longer recognize Jammeh as president as of Thursday.
The Nigerian Air Force said on its Facebook page that it deployed 200 men, fighter jets, transport aircraft and a helicopter to Senegal for the operation. Ghana sent more than 200 troops to bolster the intervention force, presidential spokesman Eugene Arhin said in an e-mailed statement.
Gambia’s military is estimated to have at 1,425 men in its army, navy and gendarmerie combined, according to the web portal DefenceWeb.
Mediation efforts are continuing, said Mauritania’s government spokesman, Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheick.
“There is a certain optimism and efforts are continuing,” he told reporters in the capital, Nouakchott. “All the parties are convinced of the need to find a solution.”
GAMBIA’S JAMMEH NEGOTIATING AMNESTY WITH MAURITANIAN PRESIDENT
Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh is negotiating stepping down with Mauritania’s president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz as regional forces mass on the West African country’s borders to force him to cede power to Adama Barrow, who won an election last month, two people familiar with the situation said.
Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia since 1994, is seeking a security detail and clearance to take his assets, the regional officials said, asking not to be identified because a public announcement has not been made. His request to stay in his home village of Kanilai has been denied, they said. It wasn’t clear where he will go.
Barrow was due to be inaugurated Thursday but Jammeh had, after initially accepting the result, disputed the result of the vote. The Economic Community of West African States, which includes Senegal and Nigeria, has insisted that the result be respected and has threatened to take military action if necessary.
Mauritania’s government spokesman, Mohamed Lemine Ould Cheick, wouldn’t comment on speculation of an amnesty at a press conference in the country’s capital Nouakchott on Thursday.
“There is a certain optimism and efforts are continuing,” he said. “All the parties are convinced of the need to find a solution.”