The Gambia’s parliament has voted to approve a 90-day state of emergency declared by President Yahya Jammeh, as well as the extension of the President’s tenure by 90 days.
The lawmakers also passed a motion condemning what it called the “unlawful” and malicious interference” of the African Union and neighbouring Senegal in The Gambia’s affairs.
This is even as Nigeria has deployed soldiers and a war ship, NNS UNITY, to Senegal, The Gambia’s closest neighbor, in order to put further pressure on Jammeh to step down and peacefully handover power when his tenure expires on Thursday.
President of the ECOWAS commission, Marcel Alain De-Souza had warned that military force could be deployed to oust Jammeh if he refuses to hand power to President-elect Adama Barrow.
A top military source told THE PUNCH Newspaper: “I can confirm to you that men of the Air Force will leave for Senegal (on Wednesday). They will be briefed by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, at the Kainji base in Niger State.”
The source added that “the Chiefs of Defence Staff of ECOWAS countries came to Abuja on Saturday, where they discussed what components each member state is expected to contribute to the troops that will force Yahya Jammeh out.
“The troops are expected to stay for two weeks and they will be received at a base in Senegal.”
According to the source, Senegal was chosen as the host of the operations due to its proximity to The Gambia.
However, the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, said it cannot confirm that troops have been deployed to The Gambia, insisting that the matter was being sorted out politically.
Director of Defence Information, Rabe Abubakar, a Brigadier General, warned the media not to “drag the Nigerian military into a political issue.”
“What is happening is a political discussion between the ECOWAS leaders, aimed at solving a political impasse in one of its member states,” he said.
“Whatever they agreed to do is what will happen. Therefore, the military is not for any engagement regarding Jammeh or any other person for that matter.”
Meanwhile, thousands of UK and Dutch tourists are being evacuated from The Gambia.
The country is popular with European holidaymakers because of its beaches.
In a televised announcement on Tuesday, President Jammeh warned citizens of the country that “any acts of disobedience to the laws of The Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace” were banned under the state of emergency.
He added that security forces have been instructed to “maintain absolute peace, law and order”.