The U.S. has warned the embattled President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia, saying he is losing opportunities to peacefully handover to President-elect Adama Barrow and avoid the consequences of his actions.
Jammeh’s tenure ends tomorrow 19 January, the same day that Barrow is expected to be sworn in as his successor. Both the African Union and ECOWAS have said that Jammeh will cease to be recognised as Gambian President from the date.
Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Mr John Kirby, said at a press briefing on Tuesday that Jammeh is putting his legacy and The Gambia in peril.
“President Jammeh is losing opportunities to respect the will of the Gambian people and to peacefully hand over power to the president-elect, which is supposed to happen on Thursday.
“Doing so would allow him to leave office with his head held high and to protect the Gambian people from potential chaos.
“Failure to do so will put his legacy – and, more importantly, the Gambia – in peril, and we have been clear about this,” he said.
According to him, the accusation by Jammeh of external interference in The Gambia’s internal affairs is not tenable.
“I don’t know what interference he’s referring to, but we obviously want to see the Gambia succeed.
“And we want to see the president-elect properly installed and to have in place a government, which is responsible for and responsive to the needs of the Gambian people.”
The U.S. had on Friday, indicated support for ECOWAS to take all necessary action on Jammeh if he fails to handover to Barrow.
The U.S. had regretted that Jammeh’s action had made the situation in The Gambia to become “very uncertain”.
“We call on President Jammeh to listen to his own people, to listen to the Gambian people who have clearly called on him to accept the results of the December 1st election.
“And to again agree to what he already agreed to, which is a peaceful handover of power to President-elect Barrow.”
Kirby, however, said the U.S. “believes that ECOWAS can certainly play an important role in providing for security and addressing some of the concerns that there could be violence around the transition”.
He also said that the U.S. was not ruling out its support to a military action, saying: “We do, and I’m not trying to back away from that in any way, shape, or form.
“I just would say that we do, obviously, support ECOWAS as a force for peace and security in the region, and specifically in The Gambia.
“Well, again, I don’t want to speak to what possible actions they may take. I don’t want to get out in front of those decisions,” he said.
Kirby noted the unfortunate accidental airstrike on an internally displaced people’s camp in Rann locality of Borno.
According to him, the U.S. will continue providing the Nigerian Government with counter-terrorism assistance against the Boko Haram insurgents.
Meanwhile, Nigerian troops and warships have headed for Gambia.