DAKAR, Senegal – The African Union says it will cease to recognize Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh as the country's legitimate leader as of Jan. 19, when his mandate expires.
Friday's decision by the AU's Peace and Security Council comes as West African leaders are visiting Gambia in a last-ditch effort to persuade Jammeh to accept his recent election defeat and step down.
The international community has expressed support for President-elect Adama Barrow, who insists he will take power with his Jan. 19 inauguration. Jammeh's party is contesting the results in court, claiming irregularities.
The AU statement also warns Jammeh of "serious consequences" if his actions lead to political disorder and the "loss of innocent lives." It calls on Gambia's security forces to "exercise utmost restraint" leading up to the inauguration.