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Gambia Parliament Extends Jammeh’s Term

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh listens to one of his aides in Banjul in Nov. 2016. (File Photo)Gambian President Yahya Jammeh listens to one of his aides in Banjul in Nov. 2016. (File Photo)

Gambia’s National Assembly passed a resolution allowing President Yahya Jammeh, who lost an election in December, to stay in office for three more months, state TV announced on Wednesday.

The decision announced on state television will raise tension with leaders of the West African bloc ECOWAS who have threatened sanctions or military force to make Jammeh hand over power to opposition leader Adama Barrow, the declared winner of the presidential election, France24 reported.

Jammeh on Tuesday declared a state of emergency, citing foreign interference in a presidential election.

“The declaration was necessary due to the unprecedented and extraordinary amount of foreign inference in the December 1 presidential elections and also in the internal affairs of Gambia,” Jammeh said on state television, France24 reported.

This had created an “unwarranted hostile atmosphere, threatening the sovereignty, peace, security and stability of the country”, he added.

The move comes just two days ahead of Thursday’s planned inauguration of his rival, Barrow, whose election victory Jammeh initially recognized before promptly changing his mind.

Opposition leaders say the state of emergency could allow the government to cancel or postpone Barrow’s inauguration.

According to the Gambian Constitution, a state of emergency lasts seven days if the president declares it unilaterally, but up to 90 days if the national assembly confirms it.

Pro-democracy activists across Africa welcomed his election defeat in December and his subsequent refusal to step down has provoked a test of mettle for regional leaders.

Nigeria and other West African countries are preparing to intervene militarily and the ministers of finance, foreign affairs, trade and the environment have resigned from the government, according to ministry sources and state television.

“The chiefs of defense staff of West African countries met on Monday to discuss strategies on the best way to get Yahya Jammeh out,” a senior Nigerian military source said.

“Some West African countries will be contributing troops, including Nigeria, for the operation,” said the source, adding that the United Nations and African Union had offered support to regional body ECOWAS for the plan.

In addition, hundreds of Gambians have fled into Senegal, Gambia’s only neighbor.

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