Gambia's outgoing president Yahya Jammeh has claimed he will not step down despite the fact he lost presidential election held on 1 December. Adama Barrow, head of a coalition of opposition parties and member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), emerged as winner of the vote.
Jammeh, who took power in a bloodless coup in 1994, originally conceded defeat. However, he now intends to contest the vote at the Supreme Court due to what he says are "unacceptable abnormalities".
"I am not a coward. My right cannot be intimidated and violated. This is my position. Nobody can deprive me of that victory except the Almighty Allah," Jammeh said on state TV, according to Reuters.
"Already the ECOWAS [ Economic Community Of West African States ] meeting was a formality. Before they came, they had already said Jammeh must step down. I will not step down," he said, referring to the fact that four West African leaders – from Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Ghana – met Jammeh and urged him to accept defeat earlier in December.
The leaders left without managing to secure a deal with Jammeh, with the head of Ecowas claiming that a military intervention to remove Jammeh was "possible".
Jammeh's U-turn sent shock waves across the nation, where a climate of fear has now replaced the initial jubilation surrounding the election of Barrow, who told IBTimes UK he considers himself the "rightful leader" of the country.
Barrow is due to be sworn in on 19 January. The president-elect, a former businessman who worked in London, said he will go ahead with the inauguration in spite of Jammeh's efforts to cling on to power.
The opposition coalition has also warned Jammeh will be treated as a rebel leader if he refuses to concede.
Jammeh's U-turn followed an admission by Gambia's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) that it had erred during vote counting, and Barrow's margin of victory had narrowed from 9% to 4%.
Despite the changes, the commission insists that the new tally leaves the outcome of the election unchanged with Barrow receiving 43.3% of the vote, and Jammeh 39.6%.
On 14 December, security forces initially pledging alliance to Barrow backtracked claiming they were loyal to Jammeh before taking over the electoral commission headquarters. The move sparked fears of possible violence.