- Title: Tourists flee Gambia as President Jammeh clings to power
- Date: 18th January 2017
- Summary: KOLOLI, GAMBIA (JANUARY 18, 2017) (REUTERS) WOMAN SAT ON PAVEMENT WAITING/ OTHER TOURISTS WITH LUGGAGE STANDING LUGGAGE ON PAVEMENT BUS PARKED AT HOTEL/ TOURISTS STANDING BY LUGGAGE ON PAVEMENT GAMBIA TOURS BUS PARKED/ TOURISTS STANDING BY VARIOUS OF MAN AND WOMEN WAITING TOURISTS WAITING OUTSIDE HOTEL VARIOUS OF EXTERIOR OF SENEGAMBIA RESORT PEOPLE WALKING TOWARDS BUS TOURISTS ON BUS VARIOUS OF BUS DRIVING ANOTHER BUS PARKED AT SIDE OF ROAD SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS ALONG ROAD BUS OF TOURISTS DRIVING DOWN ROAD VARIOUS OF TOURISTS IN BACK OF PICK UP TRUCK BUS DRIVING DOWN ROAD VARIOUS OF VEHICLES DRIVING WITH LUGGAGE ON ROOF
- Embargoed: 1st February 2017 13:35
- Keywords: Jammeh Barrow Gambia tourists evacuation
- Location: KOLOLI, GAMBIA
- City: KOLOLI, GAMBIA
- Country: Gambia
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015ZLZEBR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: QUALITY AS INCOMING
Tourists were boarding buses with their suitcases to flee from the holiday town of Kololi on Wednesday (January 18), as President Yahya Jammeh clung to power on the eve of his rival Adama Barrow's planned swearing in.
Jammeh, a former soldier who once vowed to rule for "a billion years," is refusing to step down, despite condemnation from regional leaders and even the threat of an imminent invasion by West African troops to enforce his election defeat.
After the British foreign office raised its level of alert to advise against all but essential travel to Gambia, UK tour operator Thomas Cook started evacuating nearly 1,000 holiday makers on Wednesday. Tourists from other countries followed suit.
The streets around the popular Senegambia resort strip shaded by palm and mango trees and normally packed with tourists were mostly empty and tourists could be seen waiting with luggage to board busses.
Gambia's economy relies on one main crop, peanuts, and tourism. Its beaches are popular with European holiday makers seeking a winter break.
The president's allies are also deserting in droves -- eight ministers have so far resigned of whom four quit in the past 48 hours -- and it is unclear how many of his own armed forces will be willing to defend him once his mandate expires.
At bus stations in capital Banjul, Gambians boarded buses bound for the southern border with Senegal.
In a sign Jammeh is digging in, Gambia's National Assembly today passed a resolution to allow Jammeh, who has been in power since a 1994 coup, to stay in office for three months from Wednesday.
Jammeh declared a state of emergency on Tuesday (January 17), but a Banjul-based diplomat said it wasn't clear what extra powers this would give his forces or if the president even had the authority to enforce it.
Jammeh has already filed a Supreme Court petition challenging the election result, but the court lacks the judges to rule on the challenge, a situation that would have suited Jammeh well had he won, as he expected to, but which now renders it difficult for him to challenge the poll legally.
Regional block ECOWAS has threatened military action to force Jammeh out if he refuses to go willingly.
A Reuters witness at Senegal's border with Gambia saw a large military convoy with fuel trucks and empty vans for moving soldiers enter barracks late on Tuesday. Several residents said this was unusual. At checkpoints between Zing and the border to the north, some Senegalese soldiers wore bulletproof vests with grenades in the pockets.
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