Troops enter Gambia as former president refuses to step down

West African troops enter Gambia in a bid to depose defeated ruler, Yahaya Jammeh, who is still clinging to power despite losing election.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Yahaya Jammeh
Yahaya Jammeh

West African troops entered Gambia on Thursday in a bid to depose the country's defeated ruler, Yahaya Jammeh, who is still clinging to power after a newly elected president was sworn in, reports The Associated Press.

Senegal's army said that West Africa's regional force, ECOWAS, has begun strikes as part of Operation "Restore Democracy."

Col. Abdou Ndiaye did not say what type of strikes they were, but said in a statement that "significant" land, air and sea resources had been made available.

Meanwhile, new Gambian President Adama Barrow took office in a swearing in ceremony in Gambia’s embassy in Dakar, demanding loyalty from his own armed forces in a tense standoff with his defeated rival, AFP reported.

The 51-year-old Barrow waved to crowds at the ceremony that anointed him, seeking to end the 22-year rule of Jammeh, who has not been seen but is believed to be still in Banjul.

"This is a victory of the Gambian nation. Our flag will now fly high among those of the most democratic nations of the world," said Barrow, according to AFP.

Shortly after the inauguration, the UN Security Council unanimously backed efforts by the regional bloc ECOWAS to force Jammeh to hand over power, without formally authorizing military action.

Barrow, an opposition coalition candidate, defeated Jammeh, who had ruled Gambia since taking power in a coup in 1994, in a surprise election win on December 1.

Jammeh calls himself the "King of Gambia" and insists that his rule was ordained by Allah. He initially conceded defeat after the December election, but after reports emerged suggesting he could face criminal charges linked to his rule, he changed his mind.

Jammeh then attempted to block Barrow's inauguration with a court ruling and by declaring a state of emergency this week.

The last-minute intervention by Senegal came after several unsuccessful attempts at diplomacy by the 15-nation Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), reported AFP.