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The Gambia’s new president takes oath of office in Senegal

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Adama Barrow Sworn-In In Neighbouring Senegal
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• We won’t be involved in a stupid fight, says military
• Jammeh adamant, vice president quits
• Saraki, others differ over troops deployment

The winner of the December 1, 2016 election in The Gambia, Adama Barrow, was yesterday sworn in as new president.

After taking the oath of office at The Gambian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal yesterday, Barrow urged security forces to ‘demonstrate their loyalty’
to him in a standoff with Yayah Jammeh, the longtime leader who has refused to step down despite an election defeat.

As troops enter The Gambia to force Jammeh out of office, fight may break out between forces loyal to both parties, leading to loss of lives and property, and triggering a refugee crisis in neigbouring West African countries.

A news Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report, quoting sources in the The Gambia’s capital, Banjul, said Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz allegedly made a last-ditch effort late Wednesday night to persuade Jammeh to stand down after more than two decades in power, but was not able to convince him.

Troops from Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana remained in position in neighbouring Senegal as the deadline passed.

Later yesterday, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that Senegalese troops had entered The Gambia to ensure Barrow assumed power as the country’s new president, quoting a Senegalese army spokesman.

West African leaders have threatened to remove Jammeh by force. The UN Security Council is backing their efforts.

The Gambia’s Chief of Defence Staff, Ousman Badjie said he would not order his men to fight other African troops if they enter the country’s territory. He spoke Wednesday as Senegalese and other troops massed on his nation’s borders.

The Senegalese troops backed by Nigerian Air Force and other African troops were on standby to move into The Gambia as Jammeh approached a midnight deadline to stand down or face military action after refusing to leave at the end of his term.

The Gambia’s Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy has quit amid the rising political tensions. Saidy, who had been in the role since 1997, is the highest level official to abandon Jammeh’s camp.

The United Nations Security Council was to vote later yesterday on endorsing a west African military intervention .

Shops were shut and streets quiet in and around the capital city with tour operators evacuating hundreds of tourists from the tiny country’s popular beach resorts.

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi have disagreed over the deployment of Nigerian troops to The Gambia without Senate approval.

Utazi, (PDP, Enugu North) relying on Order 43 of the Senate Standing Rules and Section 5(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, noted that President Muhammadu Buhari erred by deploying troops outside the country without securing any permission from the Senate.

Also relying on Section 5(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Ekweremadu said the president could not deploy troops outside the country without any prior approval from the National Assembly.

But while responding, Saraki faulted Utazi’s claims and argued that Buhari was still acting within the confines of the law. He said the president could deploy troops, as long as the operation does not exceed seven days.

Quoting Section 5(5) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, Saraki maintained that until the expiration of seven days, no one can fault the action of the president.

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