President Muhammadu Buhari, Liberian leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and possibly another African head of state will tomorrow head for Banjul, the capital of the Gambia, to persuade President Yahya Jammeh to abandon any plan to challenge his electoral loss in the country’s presidential election that took place early in December 2016.
Mr. Jammeh, who in 1994 seized power in the impoverished West African country, had earlier conceded his loss in the election, calling the victorious opposition candidate, Adama Barrow, to congratulate him. However, after the electoral commission announced that there was an error in their calculation of votes, showing a narrower margin of victory by Mr. Barrow, President Jammeh addressed Gambians, saying he rejected the results in their entirety. He also demanded a fresh election to be conducted by God-fearing electoral umpires.
Earlier, SaharaReporters had reported that a close aide of President Jammeh told our correspondent that the defeated incumbent had isolated himself and become paranoid about the prospect of being tried and possibly jailed for numerous human rights violations he had committed over the 22 years he has ruled Gambia.
Our source stated that some Gambians, including confidants of Mr. Jammeh, had appealed to President Buhari, who is extremely close to him to the Gambian ruler, to intervene in order to avert a violent turn in the small West African country.
A source in Abuja told SaharaReporters that President Buhari had initially entertained the idea of sending Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State to talk to Mr. Jammeh’s emissaries in Dakar, Senegal. However, Mr. El Rufai, who was part of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) delegation that observed last week’s election in Ghana, could not make it to Dakar on time.
Our source said President Buhari plans to meet both the opposition leaders and Mr. Jammeh to broker an outcome that would see Mr. Jammeh agreeing to the outcome of the election in exchange for substantial amnesty for himself and military officers involved in vast human rights violations in the Gambia.
A former military officer, Mr. Jammeh is reportedly interested in receiving assurances that, wherever he decides to settle once out of power, he would not be subjected to a Charles Taylor-like treatment. Former Liberian ruler, Taylor, who was granted asylum in Nigeria, was eventually handed over to legal authorities at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Mr. Taylor was convicted of grave human rights abuses and sentenced to a long term in jail.
SaharaReporters learned that an advance party of Nigerian officials led by Mr. Buhari’s National Security Adviser would be on the ground in the Gambia before Mr. Buhari’s arrival tomorrow