- ECOWAS Troops Suspend Gambia Operation
ECOWAS troops halted their march into Gambia Thursday night to give former president Yahya Jammeh, one more last chance to leave Banjul.
Jammeh has up till noon to leave, in the new deadline given by ECOWAS, the West African regional bloc.
If he fails to do so, the troops under Operation Restore Democracy, will continue their march into the capital. There was no resistance by Gambian troops at the border when the West African soldiers entered Thursday.
”Troops in Farafenni refused to fight. They opened border for ECOWAS troops to enter freely. No loss of lives down that end’, a source monitoring the operation said.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow took the oath of office on Thursday at Gambia’s embassy in Dakar Senegal, calling for international support from West Africa’s ECOWAS bloc, the African Union and the United Nations.
“This is a day no Gambian will ever forget,” Barrow said after taking the oath, which was administered by the president of Gambia’s bar association.
“Our national flag will now fly high among the most democratic nations of the world.”
The support he canvassed for quickly came in with the United Nations Security Council supporting a resolution backing West Africa’s effort to restore democracy in the small African country.
Thereafter, the regional military force launched an intervention effort.
“We think that up until the last minute there is still a solution through dialogue,” said Marcel de Souza, head of the ECOWAS commission, explaining the decision to suspend the advance to reporters in Dakar late on Thursday.
ECOWAS will send a team led by Guinea’s president, Alpha Conde, and including the presidents of Liberia and Mauritania to Banjul on Friday, de Souza said.
If the mission succeeds, Jammeh will travel to Guinea before choosing a country of exile.
“It’s out of the question that he stays in place. … We propose that he leaves in an honourable manner and with respect,” said de Souza, who added that regional leaders were open to the possibility of an amnesty as part of a deal.
It was unclear what Jammeh’s next move would be. He has so far ignored pressure to step aside and offers of exile.
On Thursday, he still tried to exercise his emasculated power by announcing the dissolution of his cabinet and promised to reconstitute a new one.
In reality, he is now alone, with his government riddled by defections. In the biggest loss yet, Vice President Isatou Njie Saidy, who has held the role since 1997, quit on Wednesday.
Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, initially conceded defeat to Barrow following a Dec. 1 election before back-tracking, saying the vote was flawed.
De Souza said a total of 7,000 troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana, Togo and Mali are involved in the operation. Troops had already entered Gambia from the southeast, southwest and north before they were ordered to stop.
The advance will resume at noon (1200 GMT) on Friday if Jammeh still refused to leave, he said. Barrow will return to Gambia once the operation is over.
The U.N. Security Council on Thursday backed ECOWAS’s efforts to ensure Barrow assumes power, and the United States said it supported the intervention.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a statement pledged “his full support for his (Barrow’s) determination, and ECOWAS’s historic decision, with the unanimous backing of the Security Council, to restore the rule of law in The Gambia so as to honour and respect the will of the Gambian people.”
ECOWAS and the African Union previously said they would recognise Barrow from Thursday, and nations including the United Kingdom and France were quick to congratulate him.
Following Barrow’s swearing in, hundreds of Gambians celebrated in the streets of Banjul, the capital, cautiously at first, and then gradually in larger numbers as they realised the security forces looking on were not going to open fire.
Army chief General Ousman Badjie, who had publicly stood by Jammeh, was seen smiling on the streets wading through a mass of jubilant Banjul residents shouting and dancing.
Cars raced up and down the highway lined with iron-roofed shops in the pro-Barrow Serrekunda district of Banjul, with horns honking and people hanging out the windows.
“The dictator is out,” shouted pharmacist Lamine Jao, 30, as others cheered and whistled in agreement. “It’s just a question of time. We’ll soon flush him out. Believe me.”
During the brief inauguration speech, Barrow asserted his new role as commander and chief of Gambia’s armed services, ordering soldiers to stay calm and remain in their barracks. Those who did not would be considered rebels, he said.
In a statement released late on Thursday, Jammeh announced he was dissolving his government – a 19-member Cabinet, half of whose members had already resigned – and pledged to name a new one “in due course.”
Fearing unrest, thousands of Gambians have fled in recent weeks, the United Nations estimates.
Tour companies, meanwhile, have rushed to evacuate hundreds of European tourists.
Gambia’s long, sandy beaches have made it a prime destination for tourists, but Jammeh, who once vowed to rule for “a billion years,” has earned a reputation for rights abuses and stifling dissent.
China and EU Seek Partnership: Xi Jinping Proposes Key Trade Alliance
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his desire for China and the European Union (EU) to become key trade partners and foster trust in supply chains, during a meeting with EU leaders in Beijing.
The talks marked the first in-person summit between the two sides in four years and addressed a range of economic concerns, including data flows and market access.
Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development and opening up, positioning the EU as a crucial partner in economic and trade cooperation.
He envisioned the EU as a trusted collaborator in industrial and supply chain cooperation, aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.
The summit delved into longstanding issues, such as efforts by Europe to “de-risk” its supply chains and the EU’s anti-subsidies investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles.
China criticized the investigation, urging the EU to avoid using it for “trade protectionism.”
Xi called for the elimination of interference between China and the EU, a statement likely directed at the United States, which has taken actions, including enlisting the Netherlands, to curb China’s development of high-end semiconductors.
The EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, described their conversation with Xi as “good and candid.”
They discussed the main challenges amid increasing geopolitical frictions, emphasizing a commitment to balanced trade relations and pledging to enhance people-to-people exchanges.
During the meeting, Italy formally informed China of its exit from the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting ongoing strains between the EU and China.
Xi discussed Belt and Road with EU leaders, expressing a willingness to connect it with the EU’s Global Gateway infrastructure plan.
However, deep issues remain, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, trade imbalances, and Chinese overcapacity exported to Europe.
Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, stressed the need to address these issues to foster a positive relationship between Beijing and Brussels.
UAE Commits $30 Billion as COP28 Climate Talks Kick Off in Dubai
Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
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