DAKAR, Senegal -- Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh declared a state of emergency Tuesday, two days before he is scheduled to cede power after losing elections last month.
The longtime leader has refused to step down despite international pressure and the threat by other West African nations of a military intervention.
The 90-day state of emergency, announced on state television, was to begin immediately. It bans all residents and citizens from "any acts of disobedience" or violence and urges security forces to maintain order.
In the announcement, Jammeh also blamed what he called the unprecedented level of foreign involvement in Gambia's election. The National Assembly, in approving the state of emergency, condemned the "unlawful and malicious interference" by the African Union's Peace and Security Council, which has said the continental body will no longer recognize Jammeh as Gambia's legitimate leader as of Thursday.
President-elect Adama Barrow, who ousted Jammeh in the December election, is vowing to take power Thursday despite Jammeh's refusal to leave.
Jammeh said the country must wait for Gambia's supreme court to decide on the ruling party's challenge to the election results, a delay that could take months. The party alleges voting irregularities.
On Monday, Gambia's chief justice recused himself and said he could not rule on Jammeh's request for an injunction blocking Barrow's inauguration.
Meanwhile, members of Jammeh's Cabinet are fleeing. Gambia's foreign affairs minister, along with the ministers of finance, trade and environment, all have resigned, a political official in Banjul said Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. The country's information minister earlier went into exile in Senegal.
West Africa's regional bloc has a standby force for possible military intervention if Jammeh doesn't step down when his mandate ends this week. Gambia, a nation of 1.9 million people, is estimated to have an army of just 900 troops.
Information for this article was contributed by Krista Larson of The Associated Press.
A Section on 01/18/2017
Print Headline: Term ending, Gambia's president declares crisis