The coalition of seven political parties which produced Adama Barrow, President-elect of The Gambia, earnestly looks up to Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to deploy his vast experience, alongside other African leaders, to resolve the political logjam in the country, one of its members said on Tuesday.
Hamad Bah, who spoke with the media during the high-level ECOWAS /AU/UN Joint Mission to the country, observed that as a former military officer like President Yahya Jammeh, the Nigerian leader knows how the military thinks, and would, therefore, be able to talk to him appropriately, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement.
“Again, President Buhari was in the opposition in Nigeria for about 12 years, before he won the election in 2015. So, he also knows how the opposition thinks. He can feel what we feel. We are quite glad that President Buhari is here, it gives us a lot of hope.”
Mr. Adesina said the high-level team held a series of meetings throughout Tuesday. They included two meetings with President Jammeh, as well as meetings with Mr. Barrow, security chiefs, members of the diplomatic community, the leadership of the electoral commission, and many other interest groups.
According to the spokesman, the consensus was that President Jammeh needed to respect the result of the December 1 election which he had earlier accepted and congratulated the winner only to recant a week later and call for fresh polls “to be conducted by a God-fearing electoral commission.”
“The Joint ECOWAS-AU-UN team, made of President Buhari, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia (current Chairperson of ECOWAS), President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone, outgoing President John Mahama of Ghana, and Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, (UN Special Representative for West Africa), encouraged Jammeh to reconsider his rejection of the election results citing “tallying errors” and his call for new elections,” he said.
He added that Jammeh was also urged to hand over power “within constitutional deadlines, and in accordance with electoral laws of The Gambia.”
President Johnson-Sirleaf said discussions on The Gambian impasse would continue, as ECOWAS leaders meet in Abuja this Saturday, Adesina concluded.
Despite the optimistic tone of the statement by the Buhari spokesman, reports filtering out of The Gambia on Tuesday said President Jammeh was treating the ECOWAS Joint Mission with considerable disdain.