The United Nations only briefly discussed President Trump’s inauguration and new U.N. representatives Monday, instead choosing to focus on how The Gambia, a West African nation with its own recent controversial presidential transition and inauguration, rescued itself from a major national conflict.
Toby Lanzer, the U.N.’s regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel (the region of the African continent South of the Sahara desert, which include the nations of The Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal, among others) told reporters that he wanted to give the United Nations’ Office of West Africa and the Sahel, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other important players “a vote of thanks” for the “preventive diplomacy” that allowed a peaceful transition of power to happen between outgoing President Yahya Jammeh and incoming President Adama Barrow.
Jammeh’s refusal to leave office threw the nation into chaos over the last week. ECOWAS’s show of military force, along with straight talk from West African leaders, finally pushed Jammeh out.
The 45,000 Gambians who fled to nearby Senegal in the past week, along with the 7,000 who escaped to neighboring Guinea-Bissau, are on their way back, said Lanzer.
“(There is a) sense of relief in the aid community that we didn’t have yet another crisis in which to emerge,” he declared.
Stephane Dujarric de la Rivière, chief spokeperson for U.N. Secretary General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, agreed.
“We know that if diplomacy hadn’t worked, we would have had far, far worse,” he added.
It’s a time of transition in the world. Guterres, the U.N.’s ninth secretary-general, was just installed Jan. 1, taking over from Ban Ki-moon. In response to reporters’ questions, De la Rivière said that the U.N. looks forward to dealing with President’s Trump’s proposed new U.N. ambassador and Secretary of State.
Monday night, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved businessman Rex Tillerson, Trump’s Secretary of State candidate, and on Tuesday the committee approved South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for United States Ambassador to the U.N.
Monday’s press briefing came after a U.N. Security Council report praising Cabo Verde and Ghana for their recent peaceful elections.
“Observers from [ECOWAS] and the African Union applauded the elections as professional, fair, inclusive and transparent,” the report stated. “With a 35 per cent turnout, incumbent President Jorge Carlos De Almeida Fonseca secured 74 per cent of ballots cast, while the opposition Movement for Democracy party reversed the 15-year dominance of the African Party for the Independence of Cabo Verde by winning the majority of seats in Parliament.”
Meanwhile in Ghana, continued the report, “seven political parties and their presidential candidates competed in the presidential and legislative elections that took place on 7 December. Nana Akufo-Addo won the presidential election, and incumbent President John Dramani Mahama conceded defeat on 9 December, when the Electoral Commission of Ghana announced the results.
“The voting was generally peaceful and orderly, as confirmed by a number of international observation missions that had been deployed, including from the African Union, ECOWAS, European Union, the Commonwealth and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. The peace accord signed on 1 December by all seven political parties helped to lower political tensions and to prevent election-related violence.”
The report also stated that progress is being made in Guniea (not to be confused with Guinea-Bissau) to hold “long overdue” local elections next year.