Gambia US ambassador recalled after urging power handover

AP News
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Posted: Dec 20, 2016 11:33 AM

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Gambia's ambassador to the United States says he is being recalled after urging President Yahya Jammeh to respect election results and peacefully hand over power.

Jammeh initially conceded defeat to opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow in the tiny West African country's Dec. 1 election, but later denounced the results and called for a new vote.

Ambassador Sheikh Omar Faye at the time wrote a letter saying Jammeh's reversal put Gambia on a dangerous path.

In another letter on Monday, Faye again called on Jammeh to respect the will of the people and urged Gambians to rally behind Barrow.

Faye, a former military officer, also called on security forces to "do the right thing by standing with the people of the Gambia, maintain peace and prevent any usurpation of power."

Barrow has said he is ready to take office in January. Jammeh, who seized power in a bloodless 1994 military coup, has long been accused by human rights groups of overseeing a government that imprisons, tortures and sometimes kills its opponents.

The crisis has drawn the attention of world and regional leaders.

Presidents at a summit Saturday of the Economic Community of West African States promised to "take all necessary actions" to enforce the results of Gambia's election and announced they will attend Barrow's Jan. 19 inauguration.

The U.N. secretary-general commended the firm stance taken by ECOWAS and urged security forces "to uphold their neutrality and demonstrate restraint," according to a statement by his spokesman.

Jammeh's party, the Alliance for Construction and Reorientation, has filed a petition challenging the results, though the Supreme Court has not sat for over a year.

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Associated Press writer Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal contributed.