Deputy Senate President and former Speaker of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament, Ike Ekweremadu, has warned against military action by leaders of the regional body in The Gambia.
He said any planned military intervention could plunge the country into bloodletting which could threaten the security and peace of the entire sub-region.
After 22 years in power, President Yahya Jammeh lost the election to Adama Barrow in the December 1, 2016 presidential election, but insisted he would not handover power on January 18.
However, Ekweremadu urged ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government and the international community to explore dialogue, while also allowing Gambian laws to take preeminence, as a sovereign nation.
He canvassed sanctions, in line with the traditions and relevant protocols of ECOWAS, rather than any form of military actions, should dialogue and judicial options fail.
“From Liberia to Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire, among others, West Africa has seen so much bloodletting and political instability. Destruction of lives and property have also been visited on the sub-region by insurgency and terrorism, which remain a present danger to the peace and security of West Africa.
“Instructively, what normally started like child’s play often resulted in protracted, but avoidable, political upheavals and fratricidal wars.
“This is why the people of West Africa, especially ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, must tread with utmost caution to ensure that the sub-region is not plunged into yet another needless bloodletting and humanitarian crisis over the Gambian political challenge.
“Importantly, we must all acknowledge the fact that The Gambia is a sovereign state.
“If her Constitution and electoral laws allow for judicial role in resolving electoral disputes, then the Gambian constitutional courts must be allowed to count in resolving the political impasse.
Ekweremadu, however, commended ECOWAS Heads of State and Government for their concern and commitment to resolving the political situation in The Gambia.
“I am aware that several high level meetings have been held and several missions undertaken to The Gambia as a way of finding solution to the problem. Importantly, President Muhammadu Buhari is now charged with the responsibility of driving the efforts and I wish him sufficient wisdom to address and resolve the political situation without any resort to military option,” he added.
Ekweremadu also charged Gambian authorities to ensure protection of the fundamental and political rights of Gambians and the opposition to avoid escalation of the political crisis.