The coalition of seven political parties that produced Adama Barrow as President-elect of The Gambia says it is earnestly looking up to Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari to deploy his wealth of experience, alongside other African leaders, to resolve the political logjam in the West African country.
One of the coalition members, Hamad Bah, told journalists during yesterday’s high-level ECOWAS /AU/UN Joint Mission to The Gambia that one of the reasons they need the experience of Buhari is because he is a former military ruler like Jammeh and understands the latter’s thinking.
Recall that after conceding defeat in the just presidential election in the country, Jammeh penultimate week, rejected the outcome of the election and vowed to challenge his defeat, claiming that the poll was marred by irregularities and that many of his supporters were disenfranchised.
This was after the 51-year-old, who has ruled the West African nation for 22 years, congratulated Barrow for his “clear victory” and praised the elections as “transparent” and “rig-proof.”
A statement issued on Wednesday by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted Bah as saying: “We need the experience of President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria in many ways. Like President Jammeh, he is a former military officer, so he knows how the military thinks, and would be able to talk to him appropriately.
“Again, President Buhari was in the opposition in Nigeria for about 12 years, before he won election in 2015. So, he also knows how the opposition thinks. He can feel what we feel. We are quite glad that President Buhari is here, it gives us a lot of hope.”
The statement further revealed that the high-level team, in series of meetings that lasted the whole of Tuesday, met with President Yahya Jammeh, twice, conferred with Barrow, consulted with security chiefs, members of the diplomatic community, leadership of the electoral commission, and many other interest groups.
The consensus was that President Jammeh needed to respect the result of the December 1 election, which he had earlier accepted, congratulated the winner, only to recant a week later, calling for fresh polls “to be conducted by a God-fearing electoral commission.”
The Joint ECOWAS-AU-UN team, made of President Buhari, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia (current Chairperson of ECOWAS), President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, outgoing President John Mahama of Ghana, and Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, (UN Special Representative for West Africa), encouraged Jammeh to reconsider his rejection of the election results citing “tallying errors” and his call for new elections.
Jammeh was also urged to hand over power “within constitutional deadlines, and in accordance with electoral laws of The Gambia.”
President Johnson-Sirleaf said discussions on The Gambian impasse would continue, as ECOWAS leaders meet in Abuja this Saturday.