President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia has warned that he will resist any attempt by regional leaders to force him out of power, despite the fact that he lost the election to property developer Adama Barrow.
Addressing members of the Africa Bar Association in The Gambia, Mr Jammeh said:
“Let them enforce it today and see. What are they waiting for? I am a man of peace but that does not mean that I will not defend my country…courageously, patriotically and win.”
He said he had rejected calls by West African leaders – including Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and Liberia’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf – to leave The Gambia, adding:
“Who are they to tell me to leave my country?”
He further accused regional leaders of violating the charter of the West African regional grouping Ecowas by interfering in the affairs of The Gambia.
Ecowas has said it recognises Mr Barrow as president and will “undertake all necessary actions to enforce the result of the election”
Regional leaders will attend Mr Barrow’s inauguration on 18 January, Ecowas said in a statement on Saturday.
Mr Jammeh initially accepted defeat in the 1 December poll, but later called for fresh elections to be organised by a “God-fearing” election commission.
He said the poll was marred by irregularities.
Reuters news agency quotes Mr Jammeh as saying on state television:
“I am not a coward. My right cannot be intimidated and violated. This is my position. Nobody can deprive me of that victory except the Almighty Allah,”
Final results showed that Mr Jammeh, who first seized power in a coup in 1994, lost to Mr Barrow by four percentage points