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Senegal troops enter The Gambia as UN backs ECOWAS

January 20, 2017

The BBC reported yesterday that Senegalese troops have entered The Gambia to back newly inaugurated President Adama Barrow as outgoing President Yayah Jammeh refuses to stand down

It comes shortly after Mr. Barrow took the presidential oath at The Gambia embassy in Senegal in a ceremony witnessed by international diplomats including Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to Senegal, Mrs. Ebun Strasser-King and ECOWAS officials. The oath was administered by President of the Gambian Bar Association.

President Barrow has been recognised internationally, with the President of the African Union Commission formally recognising him while UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said they look forward to working with the new president. B

But strongman Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled for 22 years, has refused to quit and is backed by parliament.

West African leaders have threatened to remove Mr Jammeh by force. The UN Security Council yesterday backed their efforts.

According to Reuters News Agency, the United Nations Security Council on Thursday backed efforts by West African states to ensure Gambian President Adama Barrow assumes power from Yahya Jammeh, but stressed that it should be pursued by political means first.

“West African regional bloc ECOWAS said it would remove Jammeh if he did not hand over power. Senegalese troops entered neighboring Gambia on Thursday, an army spokesman said shortly after the Security Council vote,” Reuters reported.

Barrow won an election in early December and the mandate of Jammeh, who has been in power since a 1994 coup, ended on Thursday. Last minute talks to persuade Jammeh to stand down failed despite his increasing political isolation.

He initially conceded to Barrow but then back-tracked, saying the vote was flawed and there had to be a re-run.

The 15-member U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that expressed “its full support to the ECOWAS in its commitment to ensure, by political means first, the respect of the will of the people of The Gambia as expressed in the results of 1st December elections.”

The initial Senegalese draft text circulated on Wednesday would have had the council support “ECOWAS in its commitment to take all necessary measures” to install Barrow. But that language was softened to win unanimous support, diplomats said.

The council did not need to formally authorize a military intervention in Gambia because President Barrow had requested ECOWAS help.

“Nothing in this resolution should be interpreted as authorization for the express use of force,” Uruguay’s U.N. Ambassador Elbio Rosselli told the council after the vote.

Bolivia’s U.N. Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Soliz echoed Rosselli, saying the resolution could not be seen as “support or endorsement for the use of force.”

The council resolution asked “the Gambian defense and security forces to demonstrate maximum restraint to maintain an atmosphere of calm in the Gambia and stresses their duty and obligation to place themselves at the disposal of the democratically elected authorities.”

It also requested Jammeh to carry out a peaceful transfer of power.

Farhan Haq, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said on Thursday: “The U.N. supports regional efforts aimed at resolving the crisis peacefully.”

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