Live Updates

IBTimes UK live coverage on Gambia's state of emergency, which was declared on 17 January, weeks after outgoing President Yahya Jammeh refused to step down following election defeat in December 2016.

  • Jammeh initially conceded defeat, but now intends to contest the election result at the Supreme Court.
  • President-elect Adama Barrow, currently in Senegal, is due to be sworn in on 19 January.
  • Gambia's National Assembly passed motion allowing Jammeh to stay in power for next three months.
  • Nigeria and other countries in the region are preparing a joint force for a military intervention.
  • A British male tourist who travelled to Gambia with travel agency Thomas Cook has told IBTimes UK he was asked by the tour operator not to discuss the current situation with journalists.

As we conclude our coverage of the unfolding presidential crisis in Gambia Senegalese and Nigerian troops are poised to intervene in the East African nation, forcing sitting President Yahya Jammeh to make way for President-elect Adama Barrow.

Mostly British and Dutch holiday makers are in the process of being evacuated from the country as thousands of Gambians flee to avoid the possible violence.

IBTimes UK news teams will continue to report the latest news from Gambia as it happens. Click here for the most up to date information.

Reuters reports West African troops will enter Gambia at midnight unless Yahya Jammeh steps down.

Press in the Netherlands reports that a TUI operated Boeing 777 has arrived at 17:10 local time (16:10 BST) from Gambia carrying 299 passengers. Around 500 Dutch tourists have returned from the East African nation today (18 January).

A further 1,100 Dutch tourists are believed to still be in Gambia.

A meeting of ECOWAS in Senegal has reportedly convened with the resolution to intervene in Gambia.

A spokesperson for Nigeria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed to IBTimes UK that "Senegalese troops are now stationed at the borders".

The spokesman added: "Nigeria will provide support to the Senegalese army. Troops will provide security to the President-Elect for his inauguration tomorrow."

He also said Barrow is supposed to be sworn-in in Gambia on 19 January, but the "current plan can change at any time," due to the unfolding crisis.

Journalists have been reporting that Gambia's Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy has resigned. At least six ministers have left their office since outgoing leader Jammeh announced he would challenge December 2016 election result.

Senegalese troops are heading towards the Gambian border as a military intervention to remove outgoing President Jammeh looms.

"We are heading towards there," one military source in Dakar told Reuters. "We are very seriously preparing ourselves."

Gambians in Senegal
A man looks out from the roof of a van full with Gambian refugee children as they wait for more passengers to arrive by canoe in Niafarang, Senegal Emma Farge/Reuters

News agency Reuters has reported that at least 26,000 Gambians have fled into Senegal, as they fear the ongoing political crisis might escalate into violence.

"Up until the night of the 16th there were 26,000 people .... The flow has increased sharply since then," Helene Caux, regional information officer for the UN. High Commissioner for Refugees, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Caux explained that 80% of those who reached Senegal were children accompanied by women.

A plane believed to belong to Gambia's outgoing leader Jammeh is seen on the runaway of Banjul airport "ready to go".

Journalist Ruth Maclean has tweeted a picture of Banjul airport as thousands of tourists are being evacuated.

Gambia's President-elect Barrow, currently in Senegal, is confident he will be sworn in on 19 January, in spite of the fact outgoing President Jammeh is refusing to relinquish power. Barrow has tweeted: "We made history on the first day of December. Our future starts tomorrow."

Is military intervention in Gambia likely?

The future of Gambia is uncertain as the political crisis in unfolding. Barrow, currently in Senegal, has indicated in several statements released in the past few days that he will go ahead with the inauguration on 19 January.

Barrow, who could be inaugurated outside Gambia's capital Banjul, is expected to be escorted to Gambia by Ecowas troops, currently on hold in Senegal.

Nigeria confirmed one of its warships is heading toward Gambia, but claimed it is a "flag-showing and West Africa training" exercise.

Nigerian navy spokesman, Capt Dahun Jahun, told AP his country's air force was contributing 200 supporting troops for the standby force for Gambia.

He added that 11 pilots, 11 crew members and 80 "supporting troops"' had already been deployed.

"The will of the people has not been taken into consideration and this may plunge Gambia into civil strife if Ecowas does not match in military terms what it has promised in theory," David Otto, security analyst and counterterrorism expert at UK-based TGS Intelligence Consultants, told IBTimes UK. "Jammeh still has the chance to save Gambians and himself from the peril of war if he goes now."

A political crisis is unfolding in Gambia, where outgoing leader Jammeh is refusing to step down after 22 years in power. Here is a timeline of the main events that have occurred since 1 December 2016, when opposition leader Barrow emerged as winner of presidential election.

The Gambia: timeline of the crisis

Gambian activist and journalist Sainey M K Marenah, currently living in Senegal, has told IBTimes UK thousands of Gambians have crossed into Senegal in the past few days. He added Gambians are also internally displaced as they are leaving urban areas, where they fear violence is likely to occur, and are relocating to more rural areas of the country.

"There is a humanitarian crisis in Senegal at the moment. We have thousands of Gambians here and others are stranded at the border, because they cannot afford to travel to Senegal's capital Dakar," Marenah, who has been living in Senegal since he was accused by the Gambian government of publicising what's been called "false news" in 2014, continued.

"My family are also moving to more rural areas. I am in a very sad situation, I am very concerned about their safety. and I fear for their life," he said.

A tourist who travelled to Gambia with travel agency Thomas Cook has told IBTimes UK he was asked by the tour operator not to talk to journalists on the current situation.

The tourist, who spoke to reporter Isabelle Gerretsen on conditions of anonymity, said: "Thomas Cook told us reporters will blow the whole situation out of proportion. At the moment we have no idea what's going on. There is an armed presence at the moment. There are guards on most street corners. Everyone wants to leave."

The tour operator has not responded to a request for comments. The company said on Twitter "customers should get in contact with us first before heading to the airport".

Tourists are being evacuated. Travel agency Thomas Cook said in a post on Twitter that it had cancelled all flights to Gambia until 20 January. Meanwhile, journalist Umaru Fofana, currently in Gambia, has met some European tourists who are leaving the country tomorrow.

Colonel Rabe Abubakar, Director of Defence Information (DDI) in Nigeria, has told IBTimes UK that reports claiming Nigerian troops are currently travelling to Senegal are "just rumours" at the moment. However, he added Ecowas leaders are currently discussing the best way to reach a peaceful solution to Gambia's political impasse.

President-elect and opposition leader Barrow told IBTimes UK he considered himself the "rightful leader" of the country and was confident the issue could be resolved peacefully. Barrow, who worked as a security guard at an Argos store in London, said he intends to carry out key reforms "including introducing a two-year term limit for presidents."

Travel agent Thomas Cook is planning to bring home an estimated 985 customers from Gambia after the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warned against travel to the west African nation.

Morocco has offered asylum to Jammeh as long as he steps down when his term expires. In a similar move, Nigeria's House of Representatives approved a motion, not binding on the government, to grant asylum to the outgoing leader.