The head of The Gambian army, Ousman Badjie has given his full backing to President Yahya Jammeh, who has refused to step down after losing the last election.
Adama Barrow, the candidate of the opposition party, trounced Jammeh, who initially accepted the result but changed his mind nine days later, citing electoral “abnormalities”.
In a letter to the pro-government newspaper, Badjie pledged the “unflinching loyalty and support of the Gambia armed forces” to Jammeh.
Badjie’s intervention follows the threat of military action by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) if Jammeh refuses to leave office on January 19.
President Jammeh has said any such intervention would constitute an act of war.
The army’s support is seen as critical in building a transition after Jammeh’s 22 years in power.
The dispute over the election results has raised tensions in the region, with both neighbouring countries and international powers urging Jammeh to step down.
Security forces seized control of Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission headquarters in Banjul, while Alieu Momar Njai, head of the commission, fled the country over fears for his security.
3 private radio stations were also taken off the air, in an apparent media crackdown. One has since resumed broadcasting music and advertisements only, with no on-air presenters or DJs.
Despite the threat of military intervention and Jammeh’s protests, Barrow’s team said they plan to declare him as president on 18 December.