Gambian parliament extends leader’s stay in power 3 months
BANJUL, Gambia – The Associated PressThe Gambian parliament has voted to extend President Yahya Jammeh’s term in office for three months, even as his mandate was set to end on Jan. 19, state television said Jan. 18. The extension takes effect immediately.
The announcement came a day after Jammeh declared a three-month state of emergency as he seeks to stay in power despite losing elections in December last year. President-elect Adama Barrow has vowed to be sworn in on Jan. 19, with the backing of the international community.
Jammeh, who has ruled The Gambia with an iron fist for 22 years, initially acknowledged opponent Barrow as the victor in December elections, but later rejected the ballot count as flawed and lodged a complaint with the country’s Supreme Court.
He declared a state of emergency on Jan. 17 due to the “unprecedented and extraordinary amount of foreign interference in the Dec. 1, 2016 presidential elections and also in the internal affairs of The Gambia,” Jammeh announced on state TV.
Citizens were henceforth “banned from any acts of disobedience to the laws of The Gambia, incitement to violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace,” Jammeh said, asking security forces to maintain law and order.
Under the Gambian constitution a state of emergency lasts up to 90 days if the national assembly confirms it -- which the legislature did late Tuesday, a parliamentary source told AFP.
As the political crisis deepened, special flights were being organized to evacuate British and other tourists from Gambia, where the threat of a regional military intervention loomed to force Jammeh to step down.
Jammeh has challenged the election results, citing voting irregularities, and the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS has threatened to send in troops to make him leave.
Thousands of people have been fleeing the tiny country, including a number of government ministers. Barrow is in neighboring Senegal for his safety.