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African Leaders Hope to Persuade Gambia President to Accept Election Results, Cede Power to New Leader

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Four African heads of state landed in The Gambia on Tuesday with a mission to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to leave office after his defeat at the ballot box.

Jammeh’s party has vowed to challenge the December 1 vote result in court, leading to an avalanche of international condemnation and multitude of calls for him to cede power to opponent Adama Barrow, who was officially declared the winner.

Jammeh is expected to meet with Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari, Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana’s outgoing President John Mahama on Wednesday.

The heavyweight delegation of West Africa’s biggest hitters, who have significant ties to The Gambia, will be joined by United Nations West Africa envoy Mohamed Ibn Chambas.

The African leaders will then hold separate talks with Barrow, several sources told AFP.

Banjul-based diplomats say Buhari in particular has long been annoyed by Jammeh’s provocative behavior and disdain for protocol.

Up until now, the president of the tiny country of fewer than two million people may have exasperated his peers, but he has never threatened peace in the subregion, a situation that has dramatically shifted since Jammeh’s move to void the election.

“It is unacceptable that there is an election and one person turns down the result,” Liberia’s information minister, Eugene Nagbe, told AFP on Tuesday. “The message of President Sirleaf and her delegation to Jammeh will be that he accepts the result and gives way to smooth transition.”

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