Gambian Vice President resigns as Jammeh remains defiant

Ex-Gambia leader, Yahya Jammeh
Ex-Gambia leader, Yahya Jammeh

In what is clearly the biggest indication that the President of The Gambia, Yayha Jammeh, has lost control of his government, the country’s Vice president, Isatou Njie-Saidy, on Wednesday resigned.

She announced her resignation hours before official end of the tenure of Mr. Jammeh’s administration as the country’s political impasse gets worse over the refusal of Mr Jammeh to relinquish power to the President-elect Adama Barrow who was scheduled to be sworn in on Thursday.

The country’s minister of higher education, Aboubacar Senghore, who was appointed to the position last July, also resigned on Wednesday saying he cannot serve in the post beyond the tenure of the outgoing president.

“Given my strong religious and legal background, I feel it is now ethically and legally speaking time to step down as minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and Religious Affairs as the constitutional mandate of the current government expires today, Wednesday 18th January 2017,” he wrote in his resignation letter to Mr Jammeh.

The resignation of Mr. Senghore, who was the country’s former foreign affairs minister, brings the number of minister that have resigned from Mr Jammeh’s cabinet since the political logjam to eight.

A source who asked not to be named for fear of being arrested, told PREMIUM TIMES that the increasing resignation of ministers may have forced Mr. Jammeh to dissolve his cabinet.

PREMIUM TIMES has not been able to verify the if Mr. Jammeh has indeed dissolved his cabinet.

Having lost all legal avenue to stop the inauguration of Mr. Barrow, the Gambia president, relying on a motion by the parliament, controlled by his party, declared a 90-day state of emergency, which effectively extended his hold on power.

The situation in the tiny West African country has become dire after the failure of a team of leaders from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, failed to convince Mr. Jammeh to allow for peaceful transition.

ECOWAS has since prepared troops drawn from countries in the region including Nigeria to forcibly remove Mr. Jammeh from office.

Reports indicated that a Nigerian warship was already sailing towards the country on Monday.

On Wednesday, thousands of Western tourists trying to leave the country before the expected deployment of the regional force, gathered at Gambia’s international airport.

The BBC also reported that Senegalese troops had moved closer to the Gambian border on Wednesday.

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