UN: Security Council urges Gambia’s President Jammeh to transfer power 0

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has called on Gambia’s longtime head of state, Yahya Jammeh, to hand over power to President-elect Adama Barrow, who won the December 1 polls in the West African country.

In a statement read at an open council meeting on Wednesday, the 15-member body said it was “encouraged” by decisions by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to recognize Barrow as Gambia’s future leader.

Barrow and Jammeh secured 43.3 and 39.6 percent of the vote respectively. Jammeh, who has governed the country for 22 years, initially accepted the results but later reversed his position, saying the polls were riddled with irregularities and vowed to challenge the outcome in the Supreme Court.

ECOWAS, in turn, urged Jammeh to honor his initial pledge to accept electoral defeat and threatened “to take all necessary action to enforce the results” of the polls. However, Jammeh said he would not step down and accused West African leaders of violating the ECOWAS principle of non-interference. “I am not a coward. My right cannot be intimidated and violated. This is my position. Nobody can deprive me of that victory,” he said during a televised speech.

Reports said ECOWAS might seek approval from the UNSC, of which Senegal is a non-permanent member, for the use of force against the Gambia. The UNSC said ECOWAS initiatives “aimed at ensuring a peaceful and orderly transition process.” It further urged Barrow’s security to be “fully ensured” and called on Gambian defense and security forces to “demonstrate maximum restraint to maintain an atmosphere of calm” in the capital, Banjul.

Barrow’s inauguration ceremony is expected to be held on January 19. Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 military coup, has come under fire by human rights groups for what is said to be his crackdown on opponents.