United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, on one of the last days of his tenure, called Gambian president-elect Adama Barrow on Thursday to congratulate him on his victory and assure Barrow that the UN supports the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its commitments to him.
Ban has not yet been able to talk with outgoing President Yahya Jammeh, despite his efforts to reach him by telephone, the UN said in a statement.
Jammeh, the authoritarian ruler of The Gambia for the last 22 years, initially accepted defeat in the country’s December 1 elections but has since refused to step down or offer Barrow a peaceful and democratic transition.
Barrow won with 43.3 percent of a vote that Jammeh later claimed was fraught with irregularities.
Jammeh subsequently demanded a new vote, despite the mediation attempts of a delegation of ECOWAS heads of state meeting with him in Banjul. He defied their efforts in a televised address on December 21, vowing that he would not step down and was willing to die in defense of his country.
Jammeh, head of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party, filed a petition with the Supreme Court to set aside the results and shut the doors of Gambia’s electoral commission. The commission headquarters reopened on Thursday.
The ECOWAS leaders plan to attend Barrow’s January 19 inauguration, and have called on Jammeh to step down and facilitate an orderly and democratic succession. Ban, in his conversation with Barrow, said the United Nations is in accord with their decision and stands ready to assist The Gambia in achieving its future goals.
Image: Dr. Isatou Touray