The armies of Senegal and Nigeria have started a military operation on the territory of the Gambia in order to support new country’s president Adama Barrow.
On December 1, 2016, the Gambia held its first since 1944 presidential elections, as a result of which opposition leader Adama Barrow won. On January 19, 2017, an inauguration of the new president took place in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. However, already in December 2016, incumbent president of the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, said that the voting was held with ‘serious violations’ and called for a new elections.
On January 19, Jammeh refused to leave his post. A split occurred in the country’s army, some part advocated for Jammeh, but the most of the army, including senior military authorities, supported the new president. Barrow announced that “the Jammeh’s presidency is officially completed and the Gambia is entering a new era.”
The African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said that since January 19, they recognize only the one head of the state – Barrow. The US also announced its recognition of the new president.
A few days ago, the majority of West African countries announced their intention to launch a military operation in the Gambia in the case of the Jammeh’s refusal to leave the presidential post. An intention to ‘restore the democracy’ was declared by Senegal (the only one country, with which the Gambia has a common border), Nigeria and Ghana. As soon as it became known about the Jammeh’s refusal to leave his post, the Gambia’s border was crossed by Senegalese troops, which began a rapid advance towards the country’s capital, Banjul.
There are no details about armed resistance of Jammeh’s supporters, but it became clear that this resistance takes place, as the Air Forces of Nigeria and a number of other ECOWAS countries started to carry out airstrikes on the territory of the Gambia.
Around the midnight, the ECOWAS suspended the military operation in the Gambia until the Friday afternoon in order to give Jammeh a chance to peacefully hand over the power to Barrow.