By Kebba Jeffang
The five men team from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led by the chairperson, who arrived in Banjul on Tuesday, December 13 2016, held discussions with the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh and the incoming president Adama Barrow and his team at a hotel in Bijilo.
The team comprised Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia who doubles as the chair of ECOWAS, Mr. Muhammadou Buhari, the president of Nigeria, Mr. John Mahama, the outgoing president of Ghana and Mr. Earnest Koroma, the president of Sierra Leone.
The delegation held separate talks with the out-going president, the president-elect, IEC chairman and heads of security apparatus.
Speaking to journalists, Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson for the elected coalition government said they still maintain that Adama Barrow is the president-elect of the Gambia and he will assume office after the expiration of the term of the outgoing president Yahya Jammeh. According to Sallah, there will be constitutional crisis if Jammeh refuses to step down at the end of his tenure in January on the 19 and there is likely to be conflict in the country. He said they have indicated this to the delegation formed by ECOWAS, AU and the UN who have been following the situation in the country as a fact-finding mission to know what all the sides are saying and help the Gambia not to move into crisis.
“We have cleared it to them that there is a relative peace in the Gambia today because of our adherence to the Constitutional provision that even though president-elect Barrow is the incoming president we are also conscious of the fact that there is transition in our Constitution that makes President Jammeh to stay in office until the expiration of his term,” said Sallah.
Mr Sallah could not share with the media what Jammeh’s stance is as he said they are concerned to share their own position.
Also speaking briefly, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the chairperson of ECOWAS said they have met with all the stakeholders including the outgoing president, the incoming president and his team, the IEC and the security chiefs. She said they got assurances from all stakeholders that peace will be maintained in the country throughout the transition period. She could not speak further as they will report to the ECOWAS headquarters in Abuja regarding the findings. She concluded: “We came to help The Gambia find its way to a transition and that’s something that can’t happen in one day.”
However, attempts to talk to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Ousman Badjie, could not materialize as according to him, he does not have the permit from his commander in chief to talk to the media.