The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has called for a swift resolution of the political impasse in the Gambia. ECOWAS issued an appeal on Saturday as the heads of state from 11 member countries gathered for the 50th summit of the 15-member regional bloc in Abuja, Nigeria.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who serves as the current ECOWAS chairperson, said the bloc would continue to push for the prompt resolution of the impasse in the Gambia. “It is now important that the authority, at this summit, considers recommended measures to bring this matter to successful conclusion before January 19, the constituted date when the mandate of the incumbent president expires,” said Sirleaf, whose trip earlier in the week on top of a delegation to the Gambia failed to end in a deal between incumbent President Yahya Jammeh and the declared winner of the Gambia’s presidential election, Adam Barrow.
The United Nations has also supported initiatives meant to resolve the dispute. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, who serves as the special representative of the UN secretary-general and head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said recent developments in the Gambia, including the seizure of the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, have made the situation more complicated.
“The UN remains concerned by some of the worrisome developments that occurred during the post election period in The Gambia,” Chambas said at the beginning of the ECOWAS summit. He condemned the military’s takeover of the electoral office. Jammeh initially conceded defeat in the December 1 election, but later changed his mind over what he described as “unacceptable errors” by election authorities. He has called for a new vote while his political party has filed a legal challenge against the result with the Supreme Court of the Gambia.