Regional talks on Gambia pushed back to Friday: Nigeria

President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia gestures before casting his vote in a polling station in Banjul during the election on December 1, 2016. PHOTO | AFP 

West African leaders have delayed a meeting in The Gambia this week following an appeal by President Yahya Jammeh for more time, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari's spokesman said Tuesday.

President Buhari was to visit Banjul on Wednesday with Liberian counterpart Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Ghana's former president John Dramani Mahama to press Jammeh to abide by the result of a December 1 election and step down.

President Buhari and Mahama have been appointed mediators by the regional bloc ECOWAS in a stand-off sparked when Jammeh lost to opposition candidate Adama Barrow, first conceding defeat but then changing his stance.

In a statement, President Buhari's spokesman Garba Shehu said that though the meeting with Jammeh has been delayed, the mediation team still intends to ensure that the country's constitution is upheld.

"At the instance of President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia, the high level ECOWAS mediation mission led by Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has pushed forward its visit to Banjul, the capital of Gambia, to Friday," Shehu said.

"Delay notwithstanding, the mandate of the ECOWAS will be accomplished."

Yesterday, Nigeria's foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama said that force may be used as a last resort to ensure a transfer of power.

"Violence should be avoided but nothing is ruled out," he told reporters in Nigeria's capital of Abuja.

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