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Senegal says army ready to intervene in Gambia

Attempts to talk to Jammeh (left) failed. Here Ghan’s  Mahama and Nigeria’s Buhari talk to teh Gambian leader recently.

Dakar, Senegal | AFP | 

The Senegalese army said Wednesday it was ready to intervene in neighbouring The Gambia if there was no solution to the crisis triggered by President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to step down after his election defeat last month.

“Our troops are on alert… The ultimatum takes effect at midnight,” when Jammeh’s mandate is due to expire, army spokesman Colonel Abdou Ndiaye told AFP. “If a political solution fails, we will engage” in operations in The Gambia, he said, confirming that troops were heading to the border.

Earlier,  Nigeria air force said Wednesday that it had sent 200 soldiers and air assets including fighter jets to Senegal as part of a regional force to enforce the result of Gambia’s contested election. (full story here)

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said it had “today moved a contingent of 200 men and air assets comprising fighter jets, transport aircraft, light utility helicopter as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Dakar from where it is expected to operate into Gambia”.

“The deployment is also to forestall hostilities or breakdown of law and order that may result from the current political impasse in The Gambia,” it added in a statement.

Senegal appeals to UN

Senegal  has presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would authorize ECOWAS to take “all necessary measures” to ensure a transfer of power in The Gambia, according to the text seen by AFP.

The Economic Community Of West African States has repeatedly called on leader Yahya Jammeh to respect the result of the December 1 election and step down after 22 years in power.

Jammeh on Tuesday declared a state of emergency as President-elect Adama Barrow, who is currently in Senegal, maintained his inauguration will go ahead as planned on Thursday on Gambian soil.

At Senegal’s request, the Security Council will discuss the crisis in the West African country on Wednesday, diplomats said.

UN envoy for West Africa Mohamed Ibn Chambas last week told the council that ECOWAS was prepared to ask the council to approve the deployment of troops to the Gambia.

The draft resolution states that “instability in The Gambia could pose a threat to international peace and security in the region.”

It calls on the council to endorse the ECOWAS and African Union decisions to recognize Barrow as the president-elect.

The council “reiterates its full support to the ECOWAS in its commitment to take all necessary measures to ensure the respect of the will of the people of The Gambia,” according to the draft.

The council last month demanded in a unanimous statement that Jammeh recognize the outcome of the election and transfer power to Barrow.

The text requests that Jammeh “carry out a peaceful and orderly transition process, and to transfer power to President-elect Barrow by January 19.”

The council threatens to “consider measures against him should he fail to do so”, according to the draft.

A vote on the draft resolution was not immediately scheduled.

RELATED STORY: Barrow says inauguration will go ahead on ‘Gambian soil’

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