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Pres. Sirleaf Leads ECOWAS Team To 2nd Banjul Meeting Wednesday
MONROVIA, January 10 (LINA) - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will again lead a top-level delegation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to The Gambia on Wednesday, January 11.
The delegation will include Presidents Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the ECOWAS Mediator on The Gambia, and hopefully President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone
Others include Co-Mediator and former President John Mahama of Ghana, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Marcel de Souza and special representatives of the United Nations and African Union.
It can be recalled that last month, President Sirleaf led an ECOWAS-leaders delegation, including Presidents Buhari, Koroma and Mr. Mahama to Banjul, the capital of The Gambia, where they met with President Yahya Jammeh, President- elect Barrow and other stakeholders.
The decision for a second visit to Banjul, The Gambia was reached Monday during a meeting of Presidents Sirleaf, Buhari and Macky Sall of Liberia, Nigeria and Senegal in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, aimed at resolving the political stalemate in The Gambia.
A dispatch from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja says President Buhari of Nigeria hosted the one-day meeting, also attended by Mr. John Mahama, the immediate past President of Ghana, Mr. Marcel de Souza, President of the ECOWAS Commission and special representatives from the United Nations and African Union.
The meeting came ten days to the January 19 inauguration of President-elect of The Gambia, Mr. Adama Barrow.
Outgoing President Yahya Jammeh, who lost the December 1 election and had earlier conceded defeat, however, recanted a week later, and is now asking for fresh polls to be conducted.
Sub-regional leaders at the just-concluded 49th ECOWAS Summit held on December 17 in Abuja under the Chairmanship of President Sirleaf designated President Buhari as the Mediator on The Gambia and the immediate past President of Ghana, Mr. Mahama as Co-Mediator.
According to the dispatch, the leaders on Monday deliberated on the current state of affairs in The Gambia and agreed on their determination to resolve the political crisis in a manner that conforms with the Constitution of The Gambia and respects the will of the people of that country.
The dispatch adds that the three West African leaders, after over four hours of intensive closed-door meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, resolved to within two days send some ECOWAS leaders to discuss with outgoing President Jammeh on the imperative to respect the Gambian Constitution.
Last month’s 49th ECOWAS Summit also gave the terms of reference of President Buhari and former President Mahama to include ensuring the safety of President-elect Barrow, the political leaders and the entire population.
Speaking on the outcome of the Abuja discussions, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said the sub-regional leaders expressed particular concern over the deteriorating situation that has been reported in respect to security in The Gambia.
In particular, the West African leaders expressed concern over the closure of some radio stations and media houses in The Gambia, the arrests of some people and also the refugee situation that is being created with the mass exodus of Gambians into the interior parts of the country and to neighboring countries.
Monday’s meeting in Abuja followed the one in Accra, Ghana on Saturday, January 7, on the sidelines of the inauguration of that country’s new President, Nana Akufo-Addo.