Gambia’s outgoing President Yahya Jammeh will not step down when his mandate which ends on Jan. 18, in spite of his electoral defeat, the Information Ministry said on Thursday.
The autocrat, who ruled the small West African nation for 22 years, will remain in office until the Supreme Court decides on a petition filed by Jammeh.
According to the statement, Jammeh is challenging the result of the Dec. 1 presidential election.
President-elect Adama Barrow, a former real estate agent who was little known before he announced his candidacy, meanwhile reiterated he is planning to take office on Jan. 19, as scheduled.
Earlier, Gambia’s current dysfunctional Supreme Court adjourned hearing Jammeh’s petition till Jan. 16 since only one of a required minimum of five judges were present.
Experts however believe it will be highly unlikely that four additional judges will be present on Monday.
This is because the Supreme Court has not been operational since Jammeh fired several of the court’s judges in mid-2016.
All other eligible Court of Appeal judges left the country after the December election.
Observers fear that delays to the planned handover of power could lead to violence.