Gambia army chief backs Jammeh

Gambian chief of staff Ousman Badjie looks on at a hotel in Banjul to meet with Gambian president-elect with three other African heads of state on December 13, 2016.Gambian chief of staff Ousman Badjie looks on at a hotel in Banjul to meet with Gambian president-elect with three other African heads of state on December 13, 2016.agan

January 4, 2017, the Gambia’s army chief has reaffirmed his loyalty to President Yahya Jammeh, following a threat by regional bloc Ecowas leaders to use military force to oust him if he refuses to step down when his term ends on 19 January.

In a letter he wrote to the pro-government Daily Observer newspaper, Ousman Badjie said: May I please seize this opportunity to renew to your Excellency the assurance of the unflinching loyalty and support of the Gambia Armed Forces.”

Ecowas has said troops in neighbouring Senegal are ready to intervene in The Gambia if Mr Jammeh does not hand power to President-elect Adana Barrow on 19 January.

Mr Jammeh has warned that their intervention will be an “act of war”.

The Gambian strongman had initially accepted defeat in the 1 December election, but then launched court action to annul the result.

Correspondents say that if the army chief switches loyalty, Mr Jammeh’s chances of remaining in office are slim.

The tiny West African state has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965.