Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared a 90-day state of emergency, citing foreign interference in the presidential election of December.
The incumbent Gambian president made the announcement on state television on Tuesday.
“I… hereby declare a state of public emergency throughout the Islamic Republic of Gambia,” the declaration said.
Some regional countries have been trying to persuade President Jammeh to hand over power to opposition leader, Adama Barrow, who was declared the winner of the December 1, 2016 election.
Barrow is meant to be inaugurated as the new president on Thursday. An emergency could allow the government to cancel or postpone the inauguration.
Earlier on Tuesday, a Nigerian military source said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) could launch a military intervention if Jammeh did not step down when his five-year mandate ends on January 18.
The possibility of a military intervention in the Gambia gained strength after the UN and the African Union both called on Jammeh to accept the results of the vote and leave after 22 years in power.
Jammeh had initially accepted the results but later reversed his position and lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court over election irregularities.
Jammeh’s defiance has sent the West African country into crisis, causing many Gambians to flee to Senegal, which has increased security on the border.
Awa Sanneh from Birkama in the Gambia, who was leaving with two children and 24 other family members said, “We are scared. There are soldiers with guns all the time.”
In recent weeks, at least 650 Gambians have crossed into the Senegalese town of Diouloulou, located about 12 kilometers south of the border point of Seleti.
By Africafrique and agencies