Crisis talks as Gambian leader's reign ends

MAURITANIAN President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz flew to Senegal to meet with President   after last-ditch talks in Gambia aimed at resolving a crisis over the transfer of power, a Senegalese presidential source told Reuters on Thursday. Aziz left Gambia shortly before midnight, when Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh's presidential mandate expired. Senegal, with the backing from leaders in the region, has threatened to invade Gambia to depose Jammeh if he does not immediately hand over power to challenger Adama Barrow, who beat him in an election in early December.

After the talks, Aziz's plane left Dakar at about 1:45a.m. (0145 GMT), a Reuters witness saw. Aziz had been talking with Barrow and Sall at the airport in Dakar. About 30 vehicles with tinted windows then sped away from where the talks took place. The Gambian capital Banjul, a city of tourist hotels and sleepy streets shaded by mango trees, was silent apart from the occasional military helicopter buzzing overhead. Facing almost total diplomatic isolation, a government that has all but collapsed from defections and the looming threat of a military intervention by his neighbours, it was unclear what might be Jammeh's next move.

"It is absurd," Barrow's spokesman said in a press conference on Wednesday. "The clear position is that the president-elect should assume office on the 19th." But Jammeh, who took power in a 1994 coup and later vowed to reign for "a billion years", has so far ignored calls by world powers and regional leaders to step aside and avert a conflict.
 

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