Gambia’s president-elect Adama Barrow has again appealed to outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to step aside in the supreme interest of his people and save the Gambia from civil strife.
Mr Barrow said Mr Jammeh’s refusal to step down will result in a military confrontation and the loss of lives and destruction of public and private properties.
President Jammeh’s mandate expired on Wednesday but he is refusing to relinquish power to Adama Barrow, who was declared winner of last month’s election.
He had vowed to cling to power after accusing the country’s electoral commission of rigging the election in favour of the opposition.
His attempt to overturn the election result at the Supreme Court has been delayed because of a shortage of judges as most of them come from neighbouring countries.
Mr Jammeh’s refusal to step down has opened the door for a possible Senegal-led military intervention to install Mr Barrow.
Senegalese troops are stationed at the Gambian border and waiting for the green light to storm the small West Africa nation of less than two million people.
The threat of military action is supported by Nigeria and other states in the region.
But in a message delivered through his spokesman, Halifa Sallah, Mr Barrow who is due to be sworn-in this afternoon in neighbouring Senegal, said the Gambian people do not deserve to live in a country where properties are destroyed and blood flowing like a river.
“I don’t want to assume power stepping on dead bodies, looking at destroyed properties and blood flowing like a river. The Gambian people do not deserve that,” Mr Barrow said.
He therefore called on all Gambians both civilians and members of the armed forces to remain united irrespective of their ethnolinguistic differences and give the Gambia a new start.
Mr Barrow added: “For that to be possible, President Jammeh has to concede and transfer power as dictated by the constitution. There has been no threat from the coalition on the security and safety of Mr Jammeh. Rather he has been given the assurance by words and letter that he will be treated like the ex-President Jawara and will have the same privileges and rights as an ex-president of the Gambia.
“There is no treat to any civil servant or anybody in the security apparatus. What we have stated repeatedly is that the rights of all will be respected and prejudices will not give rise to government decision. The rule of law, good governance, human rights will be observed and democracy will thrive and the Gambian people and media will be given a new lease of life where they become the voices of the people amplified for government to become sensitive and responsive to the vital needs of the Gambian people.
“We are not threatening anyone but are designed to give the Gambia a new start and that is why President-elect Barrow was elected on an independent ticket so that he will not be a party president. The fundamental objective of the coalition was to separate party and state to make people the real owners of power which they can use to elect and remove their leader.”