Gambian President Yahya Jammeh will be “strongly sanctioned” if he tries to stay in power, the UN’s regional envoy, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, along with the US, also urged the Gambian security forces to leave the country’s electoral commission office, which they seized on Tuesday.
The army could compromise “sensitive electoral material”, Mr Ban said.
Mr Jammeh initially conceded defeat to Adama Barrow before changing his mind.
A visit by the leaders of Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone on Tuesday failed to convince him to hand over power.
Mr Ban said taking over the electoral commission building was an “outrageous act of disrespect of the will of the Gambian people and defiance towards the international community at a time when a high-level delegation was in the country to broker a peaceful transfer of power”.
The US embassy in Banjul also demanded that security forces withdraw, saying the “unnecessary and unprovoked show of force is seen as a move to subvert the democratic process”.
Tuesday also saw Mr Jammeh’s party challenge the election in the country’s supreme court.
But Mr Ibn Chambas, who visited The Gambia on Tuesday, said the legal process was separate from Mr Jammeh’s mandate as president and he had to step down when it ends on 19 January.
“For Mr Jammeh, the end is here and under no circumstances can he continue to be president,” he said.