By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA— Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has warned against military action in The Gambia following that country’s presidential election, saying such action could threaten the security of the entire sub-region.
Ekweremadu in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Uche Anichukwu, yesterday, in Abuja, said such action could plunge the country into bloodletting and threaten the peace of the sub-region.
The Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, lost to Mr Adama Barrow in the December 1, 2016 presidential election but insisted that he would not handover power on January 18.
Ekweremadu urged the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, as well as the international community to explore dialogue and to allow
Gambian laws to prevail as a sovereign nation.
Ekweremadu, who is a former Speaker of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Parliament), also called for sanctions, in line with the traditions and relevant Protocols of ECOWAS.
According to him, sanctions should be considered in the event that dialogue and judicial options fail.
He said: “From Liberia to Sierra Leone, Cote D’Ivoire, among others, West Africa has seen so much bloodletting and political instability.
“Heavy destruction of lives and property has been visited on the sub-region by insurgency and terrorism, which remains 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.”
The deputy president of the Senate urged major stakeholders, particularly the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government, to tread with caution.
He called for respect of the laws of the country, which allowed for judicial intervention in electoral disputes.
He said: “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.
“If The Gambian laws are preempted and her sovereignty breached, it could set a bad and crisis-triggering precedence. The sub-region must uphold the rule of law for the sake of the peace, stability and prosperity of Gambia.
“We must take all necessary steps as a sub-region to steer the West African nation and indeed the entire community away from any looming bloodshed and monumental destruction,” he said.
However, Ekweremadu commended ECOWAS Heads of State and Government for the concern and commitment toward resolving the political situation in Gambia.
He further commended the efforts made by President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the political situation in that country.
He urged Gambian authorities to ensure the protection of the fundamental and political rights of all Gambians and the opposition, to avoid escalation of the crisis.