Gambia President Yahyah Jammeh has given his first public reaction to ECOWAS leaders’ request for him to respect the result of the 1 December polls, assuring they would attend the inauguration on 19 January.

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Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone are understood to have warned Mr Jammeh that if he does not step down immediately, he will face tough measures including sanctions.

Addressing members of the Africa Bar Association, the president said the action of the West African leaders amounted to a violation of the ECOWAS charter itself which talks about noninterference in the internal affairs of member states. He said the regional leaders had asked him to leave the country. “Who are they to tell me to leave my country” he thundered.

He said he made it clear to the leaders that he would not accept their proposal for him to accept the election result and warned that any attempt to enforce the result would be resisted. “Let them enforce it today and see. What are they waiting for!”

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He furthered called ECOWAS bluff, saying he won’t step down, challenging West African leaders to dare come to his country to inaugurate Barrow.

He said: “I am a man of peace but that does not mean that I will not defend my country…courageously, patriotically and win.” He reiterated his call for fresh elections as the only way to resolve the impasse.