Thousands Including Tourists Flee Gambia As Crisis Deepens

Thousands Including Tourists Flee Gambia As Crisis Deepens
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Large numbers of Gambians and tourists have fled their homes and soldiers from neighbouring Senegal have begun moving towards the borders amid a deepening political crisis.  The Gambians were boarding buses, packing suitcases onto trucks and hiring canoes to flee the capital as President Yahya Jammeh clung to power on the eve of his rival Adama Barrow’s planned swearing in.

Yahya Jammeh, who lost a December 1 presidential vote to opposition leader Adama Barrow, is refusing to step down, despite international condemnation and a threat of a military intervention by West African countries to enforce his election defeat.

The president’s mandate expires today (Thursday), and Barrow has pledged to go ahead with his inauguration on Gambian soil on Thursday though he has not offered any details.

Residents in two Senegalese border towns reported heavy troop movements towards the frontier and a Senegalese military source confirmed the build up. It is reported that Senegalese soldiers in both the Kaolack region of Senegal to the north of Gambia, and in the southern Senegalese region of Casamance.

Colonel Abdou Ndiaye, a spokesman for the Senegal army, has told Reuters news agency that Senegalese troops arrived at the Gambian border late on Wednesday.

“We are ready and are awaiting the deadline at midnight. If no political solution is found, we will step in,” Ndiaye said.

Agencies

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