West African forces launch invasion to oust Gambia’s leader

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West African forces have launched a military intervention to oust Gambia’s longtime leader Yahya Jammeh, who is refusing to step down after his surprise defeat in last month’s presidential election, officials say.

An undisclosed number of West African troops crossed the border into Gambia on early Thursday evening, less than two hours after President-elect Adama Barrow took the oath of office at Gambia’s embassy in Senegal.

“We have entered Gambia,” Abdou Ndiaye, a spokesman for the Senegal army, told the Reuters news agency. It was not immediately clear whether the troops were encountering any resistance from the Gambian armed forces.

Barrow, in his inaugural address, had called on the United Nations and the African Union to support efforts to enforce his presidency. He also ordered Gambia’s armed forces to stay inside their barracks and warned that anyone who is outside and armed will be considered a rebel.

Shortly after the speech, the United Nations Security Council approved a resolution that recognized Barrow as the country’s new leader. It also expressed the council’s “full support” for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which organized the military force to oust Jammeh.

Jammeh, who seized power during a military coup in 1994, initially recognized the results of last month’s election but later reversed his position, alleging “serious and unacceptable abnormalities” during the vote and calling for a new election.

The longtime leader, who once vowed to rule for 1 billion years, declared a state of emergency earlier this week in an effort to stay in power. Gambia’s legislature further approved a resolution allowing Jammeh to stay on for at least 3 more months, but the world community has rejected this resolution.

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