Security forces have taken control of the electoral commission in The Gambia, where a visiting delegation of African heads of state wants to persuade President Jammeh to relinquish power.
A group of African leaders has arrived in the tiny West African nation of The Gambia to urge the country's president, Yahya Jammeh, to respect the outcome of elections that voted him out of office.
Tuesday's meetings with Jammeh were being headed by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her capacity as head of the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), to which The Gambia belongs. The delegation was also set to meet incoming president Adama Barrow.
Speaking before the arrival of the delegation, Barrow said it 'will give confidence to every Gambian that the world is concerned about Gambia.'
"We hope that the will of the people prevails," Johnson Sirleaf told reporters on arrival. Other heads of state taking part are Nigeria's Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone's Ernest Bai Koroma and Ghana's John Mahama, who lost an election last week and conceded defeat.
Military takes over electoral commission premises
In a sign of mounting tension, Gambian security forces entered the offices of the Independent Electoral Commission in Banjul on Tuesday morning. Reuters is reporting that the military told the Commission chairman Alieu Momarr Njai to leave the building and have since barred other employees from entering it. "I am worried for my safety," Njai said.
ECOWAS has warned that The Gambia could be plunged into violence if Jammeh doesn't respect a peaceful transition.
Jammeh unexpectedly conceded defeat after the elections on December 1 amid national jubilation. But on Saturday, Jammeh's ruling party, Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), said it was filing a petition with the Supreme Court to challenge the result of the presidential elections. Jammeh alleges that there were voting irregularities.
What prompted Jammeh's volte-face? "I think what is behind all this is that President Jammeh last Friday got scared, because there had been media reports that the incoming administration of President-elect Barrow was considering judicial processes against President Jammeh," Alex Vines, head of the Africa Program at the UK-based Chatham House think tank, told DW on Monday.
"Jammeh is under immense pressure," he added. "His disadvantage is that he has very few friends, if any, anywhere."
Jammeh's U-turn has drawn condemnation from the United Nations, European Union and the United States as well as from regional leaders.
Barrow is supposed to take over as president in January.