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Gambia crisis: UK issues travel alert, 1000s of tourists to be evacuated

Gambia crisis: UK issues travel alert, 1000s of tourists to be evacuated

Gambia

The United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a travel advice ‘‘against all but essential travel to the Gambia due to ongoing political uncertainty and potential military intervention.’‘

A statement from the FCO read in part, ‘‘If you’re currently in The Gambia you should leave by commercial means if you have no essential need to remain. The potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high and could result in Banjul International Airport being closed at short notice.

‘‘You should follow events closely, take extra care, keep in regular contact with your tour operator and airline and continue to monitor travel advice and social media updates in case tensions rise as the current political deadlock continues,’‘ they advised.

The potential for military intervention and civil disturbance is high and could result in Banjul International Airport being closed at short notice.

Meanwhile, a UK holiday company, Thomas Cook has stated that it will send additional flight to the Gambian capital to bring back about 1,000 holidaymakers who are in the tiny West African nation which is known to be a tourist destination due to its beaches.

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Thomas Cook said a flight will be sent to bring back some 985 package trip customers. Further four flights will be sent to help evacuate some 2,500 “flight-only” customers.

The outgoing president, Yahya Jammeh on Tuesday declared a 3 month state of emergency with barely 24 hours to the end of his mandate. Jammeh lost the last presidential polls run on December 1, 2016 but has refused to stand down citing irregularities in the results.

He had earlier tried to stop the swearing-in ceremony of the opposition coalition candidate, Adama Barrow, who was declared winner of the polls. The court refused to sit on the case due to the lack of judges. An earlier poll petition case filed by his party was also not heard for the same reason.

Barrow, who enjoys international support and recognition is currently in Senegal and was expected to fly in on Thursday January 19 to be sworn in. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after failing to talk Jammeh out has hinted that they could apply military intervention to enforce the will of the Gambian people as expressed in the last elections.

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