Yahya Jammeh, the Gambia’s fifa 17 coins embattled dictator, is digging in as pressure mounts on him to go. His presidential term expired at midnight on Wednesday, yet he has refused to budge. His intransigence has created a political crisis that threatens the peace and stability of the smallest country in mainland Africa.

All diplomatic efforts to peacefully resolve the impasse have so far failed. The last ditch efforts by Jammeh’s confidante, the president of Mauritania, to persuade him to step down collapsed a few hours before the Wednesday deadline. Jammeh has also rebuffed several offers of asylum from other African countries to end the stalemate.

He is now completely isolated nationally and internationally as his allies and cronies desert him. His vice-president of two decades and cabinet ministers have all resigned, asking him to respect the democratic will of the Gambian people. And his army chief, General Ousman Badjie, a close ally, seems to be wavering as military intervention looms. “This is a political dispute. I am not going to involve my soldiers in a stupid fight. I love my men,” he was reported to have told AFP.

The UN, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) no longer recognise Jammeh as president. Adama Barrow, who won last month’s presidential election, was sworn in on Friday at the Gambia’s embassy in Dakar, Senegal, after Jammeh declared a state of emergency, banning all public gatherings in The Gambia. The inauguration was a historic moment for the long-suffering Gambian people. It symbolised the end of a dark chapter in the country’s history. Gambians have endured one of the world’s most brutal dictators for 22 years. And with Barrow at the helm they hope for a new Gambia free of fear and terror.

But Jammeh, like most dictators, gives greater weight to his ego and grandeur over national peace and harmony. He is willing to use every means, including violence, to shore up his dying regime. We are, unfortunately, heading for a confrontation. Jammeh had convinced himself that he’d rule for life. The thought of him being sidelined or, worse, the possibility of prosecution for his many crimes has seen him make a last stand.

As Ecowas ratchets up the military pressure on Jammeh, Gambians face an uncertain future, filled with fear and trepidation. Soldiers from Ecowas countries are amassing at the Senegal border ready to dislodge him should the UN security council give the go ahead. Gambians and foreigners alike have fled the country, fearing the worst.

The military incursion is welcomed by many of the populace. Gambians are united by their hatred of a brutal dictator who has ruled over them with an iron fist. They are sick and tired of his shenanigans and would be happy to see the back of him. The west African forces led by Senegal would receive heroes’ welcome from Gambians. It’s their last hope to salvage their democratic mandate.

The Gambian armed forces, said to number some 2,500 soldiers, are outmanned and out-equipped by the Ecowas forces. Many may decide to surrender rather than resist the invading forces. Jammeh’s last stand will depend on a group of diehard loyalists who may opt to fight to defend him.

 

But this doesn’t bode well for the poverty-stricken nation where tourism accounts for 40% of the annual economic output. Brits made up 60% of the estimated 200,000 annual tourists, and the UK Foreign Office had warned against all but essential travel to country. Prolonged uncertainty would wreck the burgeoning tourist industry.