Africa

ECOWAS will send troops if Gambian president won't step down

  • 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)

  • 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. West African leaders are promising to enforce the results of a Gambian election upset being challenged by the country’s longtime coup leader. A summit of the Economic Community of West African States ended Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016 with all leaders stating they will attend the inauguration on Jan. 19 of newly elected businessman Adama Barrow. (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. West African leaders are promising to enforce the results of a Gambian election upset being challenged by the country‚Äôs longtime coup leader. A summit of the Economic Community of West African States ended Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016 with all leaders stating they will attend the inauguration on Jan. 19 of newly elected businessman Adama Barrow. (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. West African leaders will send troops into Gambia if its longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh who lost elections does not step down next month, the president of the Economic Community of West African States said Friday Dec. 23, 2016. (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. West African leaders will send troops into Gambia if its longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh who lost elections does not step down next month, the president of the Economic Community of West African States said Friday Dec. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)  (The Associated Press)

The head of a West African regional bloc says leaders will send troops into Gambia if its longtime president who lost elections does not step down next month.

Marcel de Souza tells reporters that the Economic Community of West African States has chosen Senegal to lead any military intervention if longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh does not hand over power on Jan. 19 when his mandate expires.

De Souza spoke to reporters in Bamako, Mali even as the regional bloc continues to try to use diplomacy to get Jammeh to accept his Dec. 1 defeat.

Jammeh took power in a coup 22 years ago and has been accused of using arbitrary detention and torture against opponents.

He surprised Gambians by at first accepting the election defeat but then changed his mind.