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Gambia's President Stalls Swearing In of President-Elect

Gambia's Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy welcomes Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari with Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh in Banjul, Gambia, Jan. 13, 2017.

Gambia's president has filed an injunction aimed at preventing the president-elect's inauguration on January 19 and also barring any party from swearing in the president-elect.

President Yahya Jammeh said late Sunday on state television, "The so-called deadline of January 19, 2017 is not cast in stone and all parties shall await the outcome of the Supreme Court."

Jammeh, who has ruled the tiny West African country for 22 years, was declared the loser in Gambia’s December 1 election.

Initially Jammeh accepted the results, but his political party filed a legal complaint against the electoral commission about a week after the election, citing voting irregularities.

Officials say it could be months before Gambia's Supreme Court makes a ruling on the complaint. The president wants to wait for the court's decision. Until then, Jammeh said in his televised remarks, "the status quo remains."

The head of the electoral commission fled to neighboring Senegal after Jammeh said in his New Year’s address the elections chief had falsified results.

Earlier this month, Gambia's army chief reaffirmed his support for Jammeh in a letter published in a pro-government newspaper.

Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow is shown during an interview in Banjul, Gambia, Dec. 12, 2016.
Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow is shown during an interview in Banjul, Gambia, Dec. 12, 2016.

Opposition candidate Adama Barrow was declared the winner of the election. The French News Agency reported Sunday that Senegalese President Macky Sall accepted a request from Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to host Barrow in Dakar until his inauguration.

The United Nations and several African leaders have asked Jammeh to step down peacefully.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS has placed its military force on standby, if Jammeh does not step down on January 19.

International military historian at the University Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan, Arthur Banga, says the Gambian military would likely be no match for ECOWAS forces.

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