The office of the United Nations Secretary General has indicated it remains hopeful that the constitutional prescripts for the transfer of power will be upheld in Gambia this week.

The country’s President-elect, Adama Barrow, remains in neighbouring Senegal until his anticipated inauguration on Thursday over security concerns – and after a last-ditch Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) mediation mission led by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf failed to make significant progress in forcing incumbent President Yahya Jammeh from office after he lost the December 1 poll last year.

With unanimous pressure being applied both regionally and internationally, President Jammeh will feel increasingly isolated as he illegitimately clings to power.

Deputy Spokesperson of the Secretary General, Farhan Haq, says: “Right now what we’re still hoping for is that the process in Gambia will continue to allow for the inauguration as its detailed in the constitution on the 19th of January of the President-elect Adama Barrow. We have been working with the various parties including the ECOWAS to push for that resolution and we hope that that is what will happen next.”

Regional grouping ECOWAS has left no doubt that it will use all necessary means, including the use of force, to remove President Jammeh and ensure that the will of the Gambian people is upheld.

Ecowas would seek the endorsement of the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council before deploying troops to Gambia.

Nigeria has also offered the outgoing President asylum.

Jammeh’s mandate expires on January 15 and any court challenges to the December election results are unlikely to be heard before then.

The UN Refugee Agency has indicated that several thousand Gambians have fled the country since the beginning of the year over fears of violence if Jammeh refuses to go quietly.

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– By Sherwin Bryce-Pease