Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will host fellow West African leaders today in efforts aimed at avoiding violence in Gambia, where President Yahya Jammeh remains adamant he will not give up power following his shock election loss last month.
Buhari is expecting Senegalese President Macky Sall, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sierra Leonean Vice-President Victor Foh and former Ghana president John Mahama in Abuja for the talks.
Gambia went to the polls on December 1, with the electoral body declaring opposition candidate Adama Barrow winner ahead of President Jammeh.
Jammeh initially conceded defeat and even called Barrow on live state television to congratulate him for his victory, also pledging to work together with him.
Barely a week later however, Jammeh denounced the election results, claiming it was marred with irregularities. He demanded that fresh elections be held.
West African leaders have tried to persuade the long-serving Gambian leader to hand over power peacefully but he wouldn’t bulge.
ECOWAS has put up a stand-by force that may be deployed into Gambia should Jammeh refuse to hand over power to winner of the December 1 vote Adama Barrow.
There have been reports that Jammeh has been seeking to recruit mercenaries from Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire.
Jammeh is scheduled to hand over power to Barrow on January 19.