Winner of December’s presidential election in The Gambia, Adama Barrow, has said that he is confident that he would be sworn in next week despite the refusal of incumbent President, Yahya Jammeh, to accept the election results.
Barrow also said that there is no need for President Jammeh to seek asylum, expressing optimism that sincere dialogue can end the crisis.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday flew to Banjul, capital of The Gambia, to join select leaders from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, in a mediation meeting with Jammeh.
And members of the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to grant the Gambian leader asylum in Nigeria should he decide to come to the country after handing over power.
President Jammeh’s term officially ends next Wednesday, but he has declared that he will not handover, citing irregularities in the election results.
He has filed a lawsuit at the country’s Supreme Court challenging the poll results but the suit could not be heard until May due to shortage of judges in the country, and Jammeh says he will not step down until then.
The Gambia, a tiny country of a little above two million people, rely heavily on the Nigerian Judiciary for its senior judges.
51-year-old Jammeh initially accepted defeat in the December poll, but later recanted.
Barrow had won 43.3% of the vote compared with Mr Jammeh’s 39.6%. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, got 17.1%.
Jammeh became president through a coup d’état in 1994 and has ruled The Gambia with an iron fist; having severally been accused of human rights abuses.
On whether he supports ECOWAS threat to use force to oust Jammeh, President-elect, Barrow, told the journalists on Friday that he would prefer a “peaceful transition”.
The former property developer said he welcomed the move by Nigeria lawmakers to offer Jammeh asylum, but said he did not feel the situation would “get to this level”.
He said: “We want to keep Jammeh in The Gambia, I don’t think there’s any need for him to go to another country.”
“We solve our problems within ourselves without the intervention of anybody. I think that’s what we’d prefer.”
Barrow called on Jammeh to “respect the constitution” and engage in direct talks.
President Jammeh’s lawyer had on Thursday filed an application at the Supreme Court asking for an injunction to block Barrow’s swearing-in.