The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has unanimously approved a resolution endorsing efforts by some West African countries to ensure the respect of “the will of the people” in The Gambia. The 15-member body on Thursday approved a Senegal-drafted resolution expressing “full support” to Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow and calling on ex-leader Yahya Jammeh to step down. The resolution calls on the council to give “its full support” to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure that Barrow’s election victory on December 1 is respected by “political means first.” Senegal presented the draft resolution to the council on Wednesday, requesting UN approval for ECOWAS to take “all necessary measures” to force Jammeh to cede power to Barrow.
The harsh language of the resolution was dropped during negotiations late Wednesday because some UNSC members objected to backing military action, according to diplomats. The vote came shortly after Barrow was sworn in as Gambia’s new president. Barrow, 51, was sworn in inside Gambia’s embassy in neighboring Senegal, where he had been remaining after Jammeh refused to endorse the results of the presidential election. “This is a victory of the Gambian nation. Our flag will now fly high among those of the most democratic nations of the world,” Barrow said, waving to crowds in Senegal’s capital Dakar.
Jammeh, who lost the votes by a slim margin to Barrow, first accepted the defeat but then changed his mind and said there were irregularities in a recount. Following the UN vote, Senegalese troops moved across the border into The Gambia. “They entered this afternoon,” army spokesman Colonel Abdoul Ndiaye told AFP. Troops from Senegal, Ghana and Nigeria began building up along Gambia’s border with Senegal hours before Jammeh’s mandate was to expire by January 19.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Barrow called on members of Gambia’s small-size military to pledge loyalty to him as the commander in chief. “I command the chief of defense staff and officers of high command to demonstrate their loyalty to me as commander in chief without any delay,” Barrow said. “I command all members of the armed forces to remain in their barracks, those found wanting or in possession of firearms without my order will be considered rebels,” he added. Gambia’s army chief Ousman Badjie had said earlier on Thursday that his troops would not get involved in the country’s deepening “political dispute.” He also said that troops would not prevent foreign forces from entering The Gambia.