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ECOWAS: West Africa Ready to Deploy Troops to Gambia

The 15-nation ECOWAS West African bloc will ask the UN Security Council to approve the deployment of troops to the Gambia if its longtime leader Yahya Jammeh refuses to step down, a UN envoy said Friday.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas said a delegation of ECOWAS leaders to Banjul were to make clear to Jammeh that they were prepared to use force to ensure a handover of power to president-elect Adama Barrow.

“They plan to leave no doubt about the determination of ECOWAS to use all necessary means, including force, to have the will of the Gambian people upheld,” Chambas told the Security Council.

“Should this be deemed necessary, ECOWAS intends to seek the endorsement of the AU Peace and Security Commission and the formal approval of this council to deploy troops to the Gambia,” he added.

The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) has repeatedly called on Jammeh to respect the result of the December 1 election and step down after 22 years in power.

The African Union has said it will no longer recognize Jammeh as head of state as of January 19.

The ECOWAS delegation, led by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, flew out of Banjul late Friday with Barrow and was to hold talks with other regional leaders in Mali.

The council last month demanded in a unanimous statement that Jammeh recognize the outcome of the election and transfer power to Barrow.

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