Ecowas has released a statement on the ongoing political crisis in The Gambia but was silent on one of the most contentious issues to have surfaced this week – the Joint Declaration of 2017 which paved the way for the transfer of power from former president Yahya Jammeh to the then president-elect Adama Barrow.

Former president Jammeh in a WhatsApp audio released last week had referred to the Declaration that he claimed accorded him the right of return to The Gambia.

Article 13 of the 2017 Joint Declaration states:

“ECOWAS, the AU and the UN will work with the Government of The Gambia to ensure that former President Jammeh is at liberty to return to The Gambia at any time of his choosing in accordance with international human rights law and his rights as a citizen of the Gambia and a former head of state.”

Jammeh in his WhatsApp audio message urged his supporters to take to the streets and demand his return.

He claimed in the audio: “I am coming back. They said they drove me out of the country. Apart from Allah, nobody can take me out of The Gambia.”

Yesterday they heeded his call and staged a protest in which they demanded that Ecowas should respect and implement the 2017 Declaration.

However Ecowas in a press statement issued today by its Special Representative in The Gambia, Vabah K. Gayflor, said: (it) has been monitoring the various protests being held in the country by the 3-Years-JOTNA, 5-Years-JOTAGUL, the APRC and other intended protests by the 3-Years-JOTNA again on 19 January 2020 and the Gambian Victims Centre in Banjul on 23 January 2020.

“Though these protests have so far been peaceful, the ECOWAS Mission wishes to categorically state that it is totally against any group or party that seeks to undermine the constitution of The Gambia and by extension any group that seeks to forcefully demand the removal of any constitutionally and democratically elected government, which contravenes the provisions of the ECOWAS 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.”

The release went on:

“The ECOWAS mandate requires the Mission to facilitate dialogue and initiatives that will ensure peace, security and stability in the country. The Mission’s engagementwith civil society groups, religious groups and other stakeholders in respect of the current developmentshave all been geared towards this direction.

“Deliberate misinformation, distortions and falsehoods about the true and otherwise positive overtures by the Mission aimed at sowing seeds of discord between ECOWAS and Gambian stakeholders and other relevant actors, must be ignored.

“The ECOWAS Mission will thus not give credence to any group that seeks to be a source of instability. Any distortions by some actors in respect of previous engagements by ECOWAS must be ignored.

“The Mission once again wishes to assure Gambian stakeholders and citizens at large that it will continue to facilitate dialogue, peaceful co-existence and stability and put in the necessary measures to enhance a stable and secure environment for national development.”

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