Thursday, 19 January 2017

Barrow: no going back on my inauguration as president

PRESIDENT-ELECT Adama Barrow has vowed that he will be sworn in ‘on Gambian soil’ today despite efforts of incumbent Yahya Jammeh to prevent it.

Barrow, who defeated Jammeh at last year’s December 1  election said his inauguration would go ahead as planned in spite of attempts to thwart it.

The election winner, who was believed to be in neighbouring Senegal, released a statement on Monday afternoon saying he would be sworn in “on Gambian soil” on Thursday. He will then get to “work on reversing serious damage caused by 22 years of malgovernance”, his spokesman added.

Hours earlier, the country’s Chief Justice, Emmanuel Fagbenle, said he could not rule on an injunction filed by Jammeh to prevent Barrow’s inauguration from going ahead. The incumbent president had tried to prevent Barrow attending his own inauguration, along with many government officials.

Barrow won last month’s presidential election, bringing an end to two decades of Jammeh’s rule. But after initially accepting the result, Jammeh went back on his decision. He said he would nullify the result because of what he claimed were errors made by  the electoral commission and would remain in power until he could hold new elections.

High-level diplomacy by West Africa’s most prominent presidents has failed to persuade him to cede power: two visits by Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who also chairs the regional body ECOWAS, have made Jammeh no less belligerent.

On the last visit last week, Barrow left The Gambia with the presidential delegation and went to Mali for a France-Africa summit, at which Fran├žois Hollande, the French president, voiced his support for the former estate agent who achieved his victory by running as the candidate of an eight-party coalition. Barrow later travelled to Senegal.

It was unclear is Jammeh will try other means to prevent Barrow’s inauguration billed for the national stadium in the Gambian capital, Banjul.

Many of the country’s military and security officers have been arrested in recent days, said Barrow’s spokesman.

He condemned their detention as an “egregious act”, adding that the president-elect calls on Gambians not to respond to provocation and to maintain the peace.

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