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Liberia news

Jammeh secretly records Ellen

The Executive Mansion in Monrovia is upset over a secret recording by embattled outgoing Gambian President Yahya Jammeh of a telephone conversation with the Chairperson of ECOWAS, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. 

The Freedom Newspaper in The Gambia says Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh personally phoned ECOWAS Chairperson President Sirleaf and aired a private phone conversation with the Liberian leader via speaker phone broadcast live on Gambian state television GRTS on late Sunday evening.

But President Sirleaf’s Press Secretary Mr. Jerolinmeak Matthew Piah described act of secret recording as “irresponsible”, though he argued on Monday, 16 January that President Sirleaf did not say anything wrong.

Jammeh reportedly called President Sirleaf with request that he would like her to contact her colleagues of the ECOWAS authority so that the pending election petition he filed before the Gambian Supreme Court could be adjudicated.
But the Freedom Newspaper in Gambia reported that unknown to President Sirleaf, she was being taped by Jammeh’s controlled state TV and radio, and her conversation with Jammeh was aired live on television.

President Sirleaf’s Press Secretary Piah did not deny the phone conversation between the two presidents, explaining to West Africa Democracy Radio that President Sirleaf had told Mr. Jammeh that “it was important for him to document the issue that he had raised so that it could be shared with other members of the ECOWAS authority.” Mr. Piah said it was strange on the part of a sitting president to do such a thing.

ECOWAS under the Chairmanship of President Sirleaf has been mediating with Mr. Jammeh to respect the will of the Gambian people and allow the scheduled 19 January inauguration of President-elect Adama Barrow.

Mr. Barrow was flown to Mali last week after talks with Jammeh failed. In another development, the son of Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow has died after being bitten by a dog, the BBC reported on Monday, 16 January.

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The report said eight-year-old Habibu Barrow died enroute to hospital on Sunday in Manjai, near the Gambian capital Banjul. Mr Barrow missed his son’s funeral as he was advised to remain in Senegal for his safety, the BBC said.

He won the election last year, but outgoing President Yahya Jammeh does not accept the result, though he initially conceded defeat. The regional body ECOWAS has asked Barrow to stay in Senegal until Thursday – the planned date for his inauguration. ECOWAS also says it is considering military intervention to force Jammeh to relinquish power.

The Gambian dictator, who has held power for over 20 years, applied to the Supreme Court to stop his successor Mr. Barrow’s inauguration. The BBC says on Monday, the Chief Justice of Gambia’s Supreme Court refused to rule on the issue as he was a subject of the injunction, which sought to stop him swearing in Mr. Barrow. Thousands of people have been leaving the country, some telling the BBC it was not safe to remain in the capital amid high tension and uncertainty. Mr Barrow is a devout Muslim, who is reportedly married with two wives and has five children, according to The Point Newspaper of Gambia.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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