US President Barack Obama urges citizens to leave The Gambia/Photo: AFP

Agency report

The US government has cautioned its citizens against visiting tourist destinations in The Gambia even as it urged Americans living in the tiny West African country to leave.

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It told those there to consider leaving the country, citing the risk of unrest as President Yahya Jammeh digs in despite losing the election of 1 December.

“The US Department of State warns US citizens against travel to The Gambia because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future,” the statement said.

It said the supreme court hearing on 10 January of Jammeh’s challenge to the result that elected his rival Adama Barrow was a potential flashpoint for violence.

“US citizens should consider departing on commercial flights and other transportation,” the statement said.

Jammeh who initially conceded defeat made a swift U-turn to question the results.

He had since gone to court to challenge the verdict to avoid relinquishing power inspite of international pressure from ECOWAS, African Union and the United Nations.

Jammeh insists that he will hold on to power and resist international interference from ECOWAS which had put its forces on red alert for any eventuality.

In his speech, Jammeh decried “the resolution of ECOWAS on the current situation to implement the results of Dec 1, 2016 presidential election by whatever means possible”.

“It is in effect a declaration of war and an insult to our constitution.

“Let me make it very clear that we are ready to defend this country against any aggression.

“My government will never opt for such confrontation but defending our sovereignty is a sacred duty for all patriotic Gambians,” he said.

Meanwhile Gambia’s Electoral Commission Chairman has fled the country because he received threats after declaring President Yahya Jammeh the loser of a December 1 election.

According a report, it is not known where Alieu Momar Njai might have fled.

In another worrisome development, Gambia’s Army Chief, General Ousman Badjie, has reaffirmed his loyalty to embattled President Yahya Jammeh, as the deadline given by the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS gets closer.