While keeping to its promise to make sure the newly elected President of the Gambia Adama Barrow, takes over power, come January 19, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) defence chiefs are busy preparing for a possible military action in the country, to help actualise the goal. The Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, Abayomi Olonisakin, revealed this on Saturday while hosting his military colleagues from other ECOWAS countries.
The meeting, which took place at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja, was a clear warning to President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia, who refused to hand over power after losing the December 1, 2016, Presidential election to Adama Barrow, who represented the opposition group. Initially, President Yahya Jammeh accepted defeat and congratulated the winner, Mr Barrow, as well as vowed not to contest the results, only to later refuse to give up power. Mr Jammeh instead filled a petition in the supreme court, challenging the election results. Interestingly, the supreme court of the land has not been sitting or functioning since years, following the decision of President Yahya Jammeh to dismiss the judges. The question many are not asking is why would President Yahya Jammeh suddenly remember the importance, necessity and legitimacy of the supreme court as the last legal authority in the land, having in mind that he made sure the same court was rendered legally irrelevant until the presidential election saga? Worse even still, the supreme court has at this moment limited judges to hear any case brought before it due to the fact that the judges were illegally dismissed by the same President Jammeh. It has become an irony that President Yahya Jammeh has suddenly remembered and recognised the supreme court as the last constitutional authority of the land for obvious reasons.
Apart from the ECOWAS countries, the UNO, AU, EU, the US and many other countries have strongly advised President Yahya Jammeh to respect the will of his people and hand over power to the winner, Mr Barrow. On its part, the ECOWAS has loudly made it clear its willingness to use military forces to remove President Jammeh from power and install Adama Barrow as the legitimate president, if all diplomatic moves fail and President Jammeh refused to cede power after 19 January.
Of course, military action against President Yahya Jammeh comes with casualties and costs; on the other hand, that seems to be the last option aimed as actualizing the mandate of Adama Barrow as the newly elected President of the Gambia.