The Gambia remains tense just over a week before President Yahya Jammeh is due to relinquish power. Jammeh disputes a recent election defeat and regional leaders, backing a democratic transition, have delayed a visit.
Yahya Jammeh, authoritarian ruler of The Gambia for 22 years, and now its outgoing president, has appointed a mediator to facilitate meetings between himself and Adama Barrow, the president-elect.
Jammeh refuses to accept the outcome of an election on December 1 when he was defeated by Barrow, who has said he is planning to take office as scheduled on January 19.
Jammeh said in a television address on Wednesday that the ruling party's secretary general would mediate between his supporters and the opposition "to resolve any mistrust and issues."
Regional leaders postpone visit
West African leaders from the regional bloc ECOWAS have been putting pressure on Jammeh to agree to a peaceful transition of power to his elected successor. An ECOWAS delegation led by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to arrive in The Gambia on Friday. They had been scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, but a spokesman for Buhari said Jammeh had asked for more time.
Adama Barrow says the filing of an election petition does not invalidate the right of a victor to be sworn in
On Tuesday, The Gambia's Supreme Court adjourned until Monday (16.01.2017) the hearing of a court petition filed by Jammeh to challenge the outcome of the election. The adjournment was called because only one of a required minimum of five judges was present.
However, it is highly unlikely that four additional judges will be in attendance on Monday. Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle said a "full bench" was needed to hear the case and the extra judges could only arrive in May or November.
Barrow has already said he will not let the court case interfere with his inauguration. "The right of a victor to be sworn in as president and the duty of an incumbent to leave office are not invalidated by filing an election petition," he said.