21 Jan 2017

Gambian leader to step down, accept election result

11:13 am on 21 January 2017

The Gambia's former leader Yahya Jammeh has bowed to pressure to step down and leave the country more than a month after he lost a democratic election.

Adama Barrow, left, and Yahya Jammeh

Adama Barrow, left, and Yahya Jammeh Photo: AFP

His successor, Adama Barrow, made the announcement on Twitter after hours of talks aimed at persuading Mr Jammeh to recognise the result of the December 1 presidential election.

Mr Barrow, whose legitimacy as president has been recognised internationally, has been in neighbouring Senegal for days. He was sworn in at the Gambian embassy there on Thursday.

West African nations had deployed troops to The Gambia, threatening to drive Mr Jammeh out of office by force.

Mr Jammeh was given an ultimatum to leave office or be forced out by UN-backed troops, which expired at 4pm GMT on Friday, a deadline set by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) which is backed by the United Nations.

The presidents of Guinea and Mauritania were locked in talks with Mr Jammeh for hours on Friday negotiating his future.

But the motorcade for the delegation of West African leaders was later seen leaving Gambia's presidential residence, according to Reuters news agency.

It was not immediately clear if Mr Jammeh was inside one of the dozens of vehicles.

Mr Jammeh's term expired at midnight on Wednesday - but, while still president, he engineered a parliamentary vote to extend his presidency.

As Mr Barrow has already been sworn in, the country could be said to have two presidents at the same time.

Adama Barrow being sworn in as president of Gambia at the Gambian embassy in Senegal.

Adama Barrow being sworn in as president of Gambia at the Gambian embassy in Senegal. Photo: AFP

Ecowas said its forces from Senegal and other West African countries had encountered no resistance after entering The Gambia.

After first accepting defeat in the election Mr Jammeh had reversed his position and said he would not step down. He declared a 90-day state of emergency, blaming irregularities in the electoral process.

The electoral commission accepted that some of its early results had contained errors but said they would not have affected Mr Barrow's win.

Mr Jammeh had said he would stay in office until new elections were held.

- BBC

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