Gambia: Regional ECOWAS mission extended by 3 months

Gambian President, Adama Barrow

A West African military operation that pressured Gambia’s long-time leader, Yahya Jammeh, to step down and leave the country has had its mandate extended by 3 months – a statement from the office of new President Adama Barrow said.

Barrow won a December 1 election but Jammeh, who had initially conceded, refused to step down, forcing his opponent to be sworn in at the Gambian Embassy in neighboring Senegal last month.

Barrow immediately asked regional bloc – the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for assistance and West African troops quickly crossed into Gambia from Senegal, giving mediators the necessary leverage to negotiate Jammeh’s departure.

“President Barrow is glad to inform the general public that the regional standby force ECOMIG has integrated itself into the security and military fabric of the country,” the president’s office said in a statement.

“The Standby Force has had its mandate extended by 3 months subject to renewal.”

A senior official said late last month that Barrow had initially requested that the 7,000-troop strong ECOWAS force’s mandate be extended by 6 months.