Gambia:VP steps down amid growing political crisis

The Gambia’s vice president has resigned amid a growing political crisis in the West African country, triggered by the refusal of incumbent President Yahya Jammeh to step down despite his election loss to opposition leader, Adama Barrow.

Isatou Njie Saidy, the highest-level official to abandon Jammeh’s camp, announced her decision on Wednesday, hours before president’s mandate expires. She had been vice president of the Gambia since 1997.

The Gambia’s Minister of Education Abubacar Senghore had also resigned earlier on the same day, becoming the eighth cabinet minister to leave the government this month.

Jammeh had initially accepted the results of the December 1, 2016 election, in which Barrow was declared the winner, but later reversed his position and filed a complaint with the Supreme Court over election irregularities.

A number of regional countries that have been mediating in the crisis have threatened to intervene militarily if Jammeh does not step down when his five-year mandate ends on January 18.

Senegal, which surrounds most of the tiny Gambia, has already deployed troops to the common borders with the Gambia and Nigeria and pre-positioned fighter jets and choppers.

Meanwhile, Barrow has announced that he would be sworn in as the legitimate president of the Gambia at the country’s embassy in Senegal. He has been in Senegal since Sunday, following an invitation to attend a summit of African leaders who support his victory.

By Africafrique and agencies

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