The political crisis in The Gambia escalated on Tuesday as four ministers resigned from President Yahya Jammeh's government.
State television announced that the ministers of finance, foreign affairs, trade, and environment resigned late on Monday night. Their resignations came a week after Minister of Communications Sheriff Bojang stepped down from his post.
Mr. Jammeh's term expires on Thursday, January 19, when President-elect Adama Barrow is scheduled to be inaugurated. But the Gambian president has maintained that he would not hand over power unless the Supreme Court upholds the results of the election.
It would be recalled that Mr. Barrow defeated the incumbent in the December 1, 2016 presidential election. Mr. Jammeh initially conceded defeat the following day only to reverse course a week later. He proceeded to appeal the results to the Supreme Court, which has postponed its ruling due to a lack of judges available to hear the case.
Mr. Jammeh's refusal to accept the results of the election has plunged the small West African country into a political crisis.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has urged Mr. Jammeh to hand over power to the president-elect, but has said it is prepared to stage a military intervention to remove him by force.
"The chiefs of defense staff of West African countries met yesterday (Monday) to discuss strategies on the best way to get Yahya Jammeh out if he refuses to hand over power," a Nigerian military source disclosed to Reuters.
"Some West African countries will be contributing troops, including Nigeria, for the operation," he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, Nigeria deployed a warship to The Gambia in anticipation of a military intervention.
State of emergency
Faced with threats of military intervention, Mr. Jammeh declared a 90-day state of emergency on Tuesday, BBC reports.
He announced this on state television, condemning foreign interference in The Gambia's affairs.
Mr. Jammeh said that "any acts of disobedience to the laws of The Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace" are banned.
The declaration came after the Gambian National Assembly passed a motion condemning Senegal and the African Union for their "unlawful and malicious interference" in the country's political affairs, BBC reports.