The African Union will cease to recognise Yahya Jammeh as Gambia’s legitimate president as of Jan. 19, the date he is due to hand power to the winner of a December election, the AU’s Peace and Security Council said on Friday.
In a statement issued after a meeting in the Ethiopian capital, the council also warned of “serious consequences in the event that his action causes any crisis that could lead to political disorder, humanitarian and human rights disaster, including loss of innocent lives and destruction of properties”.
West African leaders began crisis talks with Mr. Jammeh on Friday over his refusal to leave power, as fears grew of a refugee exodus caused by the nation’s political impasse.
Appointed chief mediator by a group of west African states, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari led the delegation along with Ghana’s former president John Mahama and Liberian leader Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who attempted similar negotiations last month without success.
Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 coup, has made clear he will not quit as president until the country’s Supreme Court decides on a legal case he has lodged aimed at having the result annulled and fresh elections called.