13/01/2017 07:43 SAST | Updated 13/01/2017 10:08 SAST

SA Backs Ecowas In Its Mediation Efforts In Gambia

The president had at the time commended Yahya Jammeh for "graciously" conceding defeat.

POOL New / Reuters
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 27, 2013.

South Africa supports mediation efforts by the west African regional bloc Ecowas, aimed at persuading President Yahya Jammeh to step down after he lost in the December 1 elections, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said on Thursday.

In a statement, Dirco urged "all concerned parties to co-operate with Ecowas and find a peaceful resolution of the impasse within the provisions of the constitution of The Gambia".

Jammeh initially conceded defeat, but later demanded a new election.

Dirco said that on 6 December, President Jacob Zuma issued a statement congratulating President-elect Adama Barrow following his victory.

"President Zuma also commended [at the time] the outgoing President Yahya Jammeh for graciously conceding defeat which marked the triumph of democracy in The Gambia," the statement said..

The United Nations, the United States, the European Union and others have united in criticising Jammeh.

Ecowas has pledged to protect Barrow, who has said he fears for his life under a Jammeh administration accused of gross human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions and deaths in custody of political opponents.

The head of Gambia's electoral commission fled the country last week.