Africa

Gambia president-elect plans inauguration amid vote dispute

  • FILE- In this Saturday Dec. 3, 2016 file photo, Gambian President elect Adama Barrow sits for an interview with the Associated Press at his residence in Yundum, Gambia. Gambia's president-elect says he is ready to take office in January despite the refusal by the West African country's longtime ruler to accept his election loss. "On the day his term expires, my term as the lawful president of the Gambia begins," Adama Barrow said in a statement late Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

    FILE- In this Saturday Dec. 3, 2016 file photo, Gambian President elect Adama Barrow sits for an interview with the Associated Press at his residence in Yundum, Gambia. Gambia's president-elect says he is ready to take office in January despite the refusal by the West African country's longtime ruler to accept his election loss. "On the day his term expires, my term as the lawful president of the Gambia begins," Adama Barrow said in a statement late Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE- In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. President Yahya Jammeh, who at first surprised Gambians by conceding defeat after 22 years in power, a week later announced that he had changed his mind. He alleges voting irregularities that make the Dec. 1 ballot invalid. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

    FILE- In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. President Yahya Jammeh, who at first surprised Gambians by conceding defeat after 22 years in power, a week later announced that he had changed his mind. He alleges voting irregularities that make the Dec. 1 ballot invalid. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)  (The Associated Press)

Gambia's president-elect says he is ready to take office in January despite the refusal by the West African country's longtime ruler to accept his election loss.

"On the day his term expires, my term as the lawful president of the Gambia begins," Adama Barrow said in a statement late Sunday. "This is the law of the land. My status as incoming president has unquestionable constitutional legitimacy."

President Yahya Jammeh, who at first surprised Gambians by conceding defeat after 22 years in power, a week later announced that he had changed his mind. He alleges voting irregularities that make the Dec. 1 ballot invalid.

The crisis has drawn the attention of regional leaders, who on Saturday promised to "take all necessary actions" to enforce the results of Gambia's election and announced they will attend Barrow's Jan. 19 inauguration.

The summit of the Economic Community of West African States also pledged to "guarantee the safety and protection of the president-elect," who has said he fears for his life.

Barrow urged Jammeh to accept his loss "in the spirit of national reconciliation."

Jammeh seized power in a 1994 coup and has been accused by rights groups of human rights abuses.

Jammeh's party, the Alliance for Construction and Reorientation, has filed a petition challenging the election results at the Supreme Court. The court, however, has not sat for over a year.

The Independent Electoral Commission has stood by a vote it has called transparent, fair and accurate.