Ousman Badjie, Gambia’s army chief, has reaffirmed his loyalty to embattled President Yahya Jammeh, as the deadline given by the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS gets closer.
“May I please seize this opportunity to renew to your Excellency the assurance of the unflinching loyalty and support of the Gambia Armed Forces,” Mr. Badjie, a general, wrote in a letter to Mr. Jammeh published today in a pro-government newspaper.
Mr. Jammeh initially accepted his defeat in the December 1 election, but a week later reversed his position, vowing to hang on to power despite a wave of regional and international condemnation.
West African regional bloc ECOWAS has placed standby forces on alert in case Jammeh attempts to stay in power after his mandate ends on January 19.
Mr. Jammeh has called the bloc’s stance “a declaration of war”.
Many Gambians, who have lived through 22 years of Mr. Jammeh’s increasingly authoritarian rule, were stunned when the elections commission declared opposition figure Adama Barrow the winner of last month’s election.
Mr. Jammeh’s initial acceptance of the result sparked nationwide celebrations.
Mr. Badjie declared his allegiance to Mr. Barrow soon after the poll results were announced, according to a spokesperson for the president-elect.