The African Union (AU) will cease to recognise Yahya Jammeh as Gambia’s president as of 19 January, when his mandate expires, the organisation’s Peace and Security Council said on Friday, 13 January.
The decision comes as West African leaders failed in a last-ditch effort to persuade Jammeh to accept his election defeat to opposition candidate Adama Barrow and step down.
The international community has expressed support for Barrow, who insists he will take power 19 January. Jammeh’s party is contesting the results in court, claiming irregularities.
The AU statement on Friday warned Jammeh of “serious consequences” if his actions lead to political disorder and the “loss of innocent lives.” It called on Gambia’s security forces to “exercise utmost restraint” leading up to the inauguration.
In the past, the AU has often talked tough but backed away from any action that might lead to further conflict. However international pressure on Jammeh is growing.
Meanwhile, the Gambian opposition are trying to persuade Jammeh that he would come to no harm if he stepped down.
Mai Ahmad Fatty, a senior member of Barrow’s coalition, said Jammeh would be entitled to the usual benefits afforded past heads of state, including an office of his choosing, bodyguards and luxury vehicles.
He also sought to play down the possibility of legal action against Jammeh, whose rule has been marred by the imprisonment and torture of opponents, rights groups say.
Ken Kamara with agency reports