“Let me make it clear that we are ready to defend this country against any aggression and there will be no compromise for that.” Those are the words of Gambian President Yahya Jammeh in a New Year’s address broadcast on national television.
Jammeh used over half of his nearly 14-minute speech to take digs at the regional political bloc, the Economic Community of West African States, which is leading mediation efforts in the country following disputed presidential elections on December 1. Jammeh lost his bid for re-election to businessman Adama Barrow, ending his 22-year reign as leader of the West African nation.
In his speech, Jammeh described ECOWAS’s position of “doing all it can” to enforce the poll results as “declaring war” and also as an insult to the Gambian constitution, which has clear guidelines on how to solve its internal crisis.
“What is clearly incontrovertible is the decision of ECOWAS to implement the results of the Dec. 1, 2016, election results by whatever means possible,” Jammeh said. “It is totally illegal as it violates the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states, which is an entrenched clause in the ECOWAS treaty.
“It is, in effect, a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution. It is therefore absolutely unacceptable,” he continued. “This blatant, impartial and one-dimensional approach clearly indicates that the role of ECOWAS is not predicated on the pursuit of justice in the resolution of this stalemate.”
ECOWAS is on record as saying it would take “all necessary actions” to resolve the political deadlock. ECOWAS Commission Chief Marcel de Souza warned that a military intervention could be used to restore the people’s wish if mediation efforts spearheaded by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari fail to persuade Jammeh to give up power.
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