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Jammeh makes U-turn on poll defeat, blocks entry to ECOWAS head

By Our Correspondent
Gambian authorities have refused entry to the chairman of Economic Commission of West Africa (ECOWAS), Madame Ellen Sirleaf Johnson who is scheduled to visit the tiny African nation on Saturday.
A news agency, REUTERS quoted a source in the Senegalese Foreign ministry as stating that Sirleaf Johnson was refused entry by the Gambian government.
The move is coming against the backdrop of the decision taken by President Yahya Jammeh to reject the outcome of the December 1 poll that saw him lose the election to Adama Barrow.
Jammeh on Friday called for another election after narrowly losing to opposition leader Adama Barrow. He had already conceded defeat publicly last week.
The announcement on state television threw Gambia’s future into doubt after the unexpected election result ended Jammeh’s 22-year rule and was widely seen as a moment of democratic hope.
The streets of Banjul were calm on Saturday, although some residents said they were staying at home for fear of violence.
Sirleaf Johnson who is also the President of Liberia had hoped to put back on track Gambia’s first democratic transition of power in over 50 years.
However, those plans appeared thwarted on Saturday when her plane was denied landing access at Banjul.
“Johnson Sirleaf was supposed to fly in today, but Jammeh said ‘not at the moment,” Senegal foreign minister Mankeur Ndiaye told media.
It was not clear if the plane had already taken off.
Sirleaf’s camp was not immediately available for comment.
A spokesman for Jammeh’s government could not be reached.
As Gambians brace for a tense standoff, international criticism of Jammeh’s claim came in fast.
Following the United States and Senegal, the African Union on Saturday weighed in, calling Jammeh’s statement “null and void”.

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