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On Gambia, UNSC Draft In Blue to 1 pm, UN Tells ICP It's Up To Credentials Committee

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 19 – As the deadline for Yahya Jammeh to step down as president of the Gambia passed, in the UN Security Council a Senegal-drafted resolution authorizing the use of force to make it happen was formalized for a vote, or put "in blue," with a meeting set for 1 am in New York.

  When outgoing US Ambassador Samantha Power left the Security Council on January 18 after her swan song speech, on Iran, she refused a question on Gambia even though she'd used it as a prop in her January 17 Atlantic Council speech in DC.

 Earlier on January 18, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq about it, and Gambia's representation at the UN, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:  in the Gambia, Yahya Jammeh has declared a state of emergency.  And, obviously, the deadline is impending.  I wanted to know, one, is there any UN, I guess, response or comment on the state of emergency?  What’s UNOWA (United Nations Office in West Africa) doing?  And has there been any communication to the Secretariat regarding the continued representation of Gambia at the UN by Mr Sam Sarr or whoever is the acting Permanent Representative?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, yes, you’re right.  Today was… is to mark the end of the tenure of Mr Jammeh following his defeat in the elections.  President Jammeh continues to reject all efforts — from the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, and the United Nations — to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Adama Barrow.  As you know, we’ve repeatedly asked for that.  The regional body, ECOWAS, has reiterated its determination to take all necessary measures to ensure the transfer of power to President-elect Barrow.  Jeffrey Feltman, our Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, expects to brief the Security Council today on the latest developments and the continuous efforts by regional and international actors to ensure a smooth transfer of power.  As you’re aware, the UN supports regional efforts aimed at resolving the crisis.

Inner City Press:  And what about the representation here?  What… what… what would be the effect of the calendar turning to the 19th on Gambia’s representation at the UN, the individual who would represent the country?

Deputy Spokesman:  As far as I’m aware right now, the representation remains unchanged.  But, as you know, there are committee on credentials that can deal with the matter if they so choose.

As in The Gambia Yahya Jammeh moved on December 1 to shut off the Internet (and Viber, etc) for the / his election, there was again a deafening silence from the UN and its “communications” / press eviction chief Cristina Gallach.

 On January 13, Inner City Press asked the UN's Special Representative for West Africa and Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, about Nigeria asylum offer, about Sam Sarr as Ambassador and if Jammeh is recruiting mercenaries.

  Chambas called Nigeria's office helpful, though he said he didn't know the details. He said he'd heard of mercenaries but that Jammeh better leave.

  On Sam Sarr, Chambas said that any Jammeh representative would cease to be legitimate after January 18. But wouldn't it require action by the UN Credentials Committee, Inner City Press asked. Chambas said it was a good point, then cited the AU. But what would happen in the UN?

  Inner City Press asked the President of the Security Council, Olof Skoog of Sweden, who replied that it is not for him to say. So for whom is it? Watch this site.

On January 11, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: On Gambia, I wanted to ask, the President, Yahya Jammeh, said that no one can take him out of power or should take him out of power until the Supreme Court rules, which will be in May.  What does… does the UN think… what do you think of that?

Spokesman:  We are very much supporting the efforts of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States].  I understand the mission by the Nigerian President, who's leading a number of ECOWAS leaders, will take place later this week.  Mr. [Mohammed ibn] Chambas himself will brief the Security Council.  We want to see a peaceful transition that answers the hopes and aspirations of the people of the Gambia.

  On January 8 a fourth radio station, Paradise FM, was closed, it was announced - and still from the UN, nothing.

As in The Gambia Yahya Jammeh moved on December 1 to shut off the Internet (and Viber, etc) for the / his election, there was again a deafening silence from the UN and its “communications” chief Cristina Gallach.

 On January 5, Inner City Press asked holdover UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:

Inner City Press: about Gambia.  The electoral commission chief has gone into hiding, and the Government has closed three radio stations, one of which reopened with no news on it.  So what's the status of the UN's work on this holdover presidency?

Spokesman:  We've had… various UN officials have had contacts with parties involved, and obviously we would like to see and are very keen to see a peaceful resolution to the current crisis in the Gambia and, notably, the… for the President… the outgoing President to leave way for the President that was just elected.

 As of January 7, new Secretary General Antonio Guterres had yet to speak publicly about Jammeh and Gambia. Meanwhile the US issued a travel warning:

  "The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to The Gambia because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future.  On January 7, 2017, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members and authorized the departure of all employees who need to accompany those individuals from the country.

The security situation in The Gambia remains uncertain following December 1, 2016 presidential elections.  On January 10, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the current president’s petition contesting the election results, which is a potential flashpoint that could lead to civil unrest.  The sitting government has begun taking restrictive measures, which include shutting down and restricting radio stations, and making politically motivated arrests.  The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stated it may intervene if the president does not step down by January 18.

U.S. citizens should consider departing on commercial flights and other transportation options now, as airports and ferry terminals may close unexpectedly in the event of unrest.  All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance.  U.S. citizens should ensure that travel documents (passports and visas) are valid and up-to-date.  Consular services, already limited throughout the country due to very poor transportation infrastructure and security conditions, may be further limited, including in Banjul itself.

U.S. citizens who decide to remain in The Gambia should prepare for the possible deterioration of security."

  We'll have more on this.


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