Gambia president declares emergency law as Nigeria readies military

Gambia president declares emergency law as Nigeria readies military
2 min read
18 January, 2017
Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh looks set to remain in power beyond his Thursday deadline despite an offer from Morocco for sanctuary.
Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down after election defeat last month [AFP]

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, amid his continued refusal to hand over power after losing an election to opposition leader Adama Barrow last month.

According to Gambian state television, the move was made in order to prevent a power vacuum while the country's supreme court rules on Jammeh's challenge to the election result.

This indicates that the incumbent will remain in power beyond Thursday, when Barrow was scheduled to take office as president.

"I... hereby declare a state of public emergency throughout the Islamic Republic of Gambia," Jammeh's declaration said. As part of the state of emergency, the state has banned "acts of disobedience" and "acts intended to disturb public order".

According to a spokesman for Barrow who spoke to Reuters, the opposition leader is "not intimidated" by the state of emergency.

The declaration followed the resignations of Gambia's ministers of finance, foreign affairs, trade and environment. On Monday, the country's top judge also refused to rule on Jammeh's election petition.

African leaders have urged Jammeh to concede defeat and have even threatened military action if he does not step down.

Nigeria has reportedly begun preparations for a military intervention, while Morocco on Tuesday offered Jammeh an opportunity to "accept his election defeat in return for a golden retirement in Morocco", Le Desk website reported.

According to a Reuters source, West African defence chiefs met on Monday to discuss strategies for Jammeh's removal.

The crisis has caused hundreds of Gambians to flee across the border to Senegal, where authorities have reportedly stepped up security measures. Barrow, according to his aides, is also in Senegal.

Having seized Gambia's presidency in a 1994 coup, Jammeh has ruled the tiny African country with an Iron fist during his tenure as its second leader since independence in 1965.

During this time, his regime has developed a reputation for tortuting and killing political opponents, according to rights groups.