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Gambia MPs extend President Jammeh’s term

The Gambia’s National Assembly has adopted a resolution to allow President Yahya Jammeh to stay in power for three more months, starting from Wednesday, according to state television.

Jammeh, who has ruled The Gambia for 22 years, initially acknowledged opponent Adama Barrow as the winner of elections in December, but later rejected the ballot count as flawed and lodged a complaint with the country’s Supreme Court.

Barrow is due to be inaugurated on Thursday.

Jammeh had declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, just days before he was due to step down, with British and Dutch travel agencies scrambling to evacuate thousands of tourists on Wednesday.

The latest move announced by the National Assembly will likely to raise tension with leaders of the West African bloc ECOWAS who have threatened sanctions or military force to make Jammeh hand over to Narrow.

Barrow is in Senegal and could, in theory, be sworn in as president at the Gambian embassy in that country, which is technically on Gambian soil.

Jammeh’s decision not to step down has created political turmoil in the country. At least five ministers have resigned from his government, hundreds of people have fled to neighbouring Senegal and others in the country say they fear violence.

British tour operator Thomas Cook started evacuating nearly 1,000 holidaymakers on Wednesday. It said on its website it was laying on extra flights in the next 48 hours to remove 985 package tour customers.

Gambia is one of Africa’s smallest countries and has had just two rulers since independence in 1965. Jammeh seized power in a coup in 1994 and his government has gained a reputation among ordinary Gambians and human rights activists for torturing and killing opponents.

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