Gambian leader, Yahya Jammeh, has accused the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, of declaring war against his country for refusing to step down.
Jammeh, who chided ECOWAS for putting forces on the alert, has vowed to stay in power despite losing a December 1 election to rival, Adama Barrow.
Recall that Marcel de Souza, ECOWAS President, last week made the confirmation that the body was prepared to send troops to Gambia.
Jammeh initially conceded defeat in the vote, then changed his mind days later. His tenure runs out on January 19.
In a New Year speech broadcast on state TV, Jammeh promised to defend Gambia against any outside aggression.
He said, “the resolution of ECOWAS on the current situation to implement the results of December 1, 2016 presidential election by whatever means possible”.
“It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution.
“Let me make it very clear that we are ready to defend this country against any aggression.
“My government will never opt for such confrontation but defending our sovereignty is a sacred duty for all patriotic Gambians.”
Barrow’s surprise victory and Jammeh’s initial decision to concede after 22 years in power was initially seen as a moment of hope on a continent where autocratic leaders are becoming more entrenched.
President Muhammadu Buhari has stepped in as an ECOWAS mediator to offer Jammeh an “honorable exit”, but Jammeh said the bloc could no longer fulfill that role.
Buhari, President John Mahama of Ghana and President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson last month travelled to Gambia to mediate in the crisis. The efforts were,however, futile.