BANJUL, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- ECOWAS delegation failed to reach a deal with Gambian President Yaya Jammeh to step down, the head of the delegation, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said here on Friday.
But he said the talks were not conclusive because the team of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) were mandated to do so by the full body of ECOWAS heads of state at the last summit meeting, said Onyeama.
The delegation visiting Banjul included Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who's the chairperson of ECOWAS, and Ghana's former President John Mahama. They had closed-door meetings with President Jammeh, and then with President-elect Adama Barrow.
"The ECOWAS delegation will brief the ECOWAS heads of state on the discussions they have had today. After that briefing, the ECOWAS heads of state will then take a definitive decision on a plan of action," he told reporters at a press conference Friday evening.
He dismissed reports that diplomacy was failing. "We are optimistic that we will have an outcome that is in conformity with the constitution of The Gambia and fully reflects the will of the people of the country," he said.
Jammeh had lost the presidential election on December 1. He conceded defeat first but changed his mind a week later. This is the second time in less than a month that ECOWAS leaders visited Banjul in efforts to solve the political impasse that emanated from the Gambian presidential election.
Jammeh had outrightly criticised ECOWAS after they told him to accept defeat and step down at the previous talks, but he has not yet publicly commented on the latest meeting with ECOWAS leaders.
However, the spokesman for President-elect Adama Barrow, Halifa Sallah, confirmed that they were still in the process of negotiation.
"It is not conclusive," he said, after Barrow's meeting with ECOWAS leaders. "We hope their efforts would continue. We are waiting for more efforts to be able to narrow down the differences."
Meanwhile, the ECOWAS delegation left Banjul Friday night to Bamako, capital of Mali, along with Barrow, where they will attend the 27th Summit of Africa-France on Saturday.
"In consultation with both Barrow and Jammeh, ECOWAS team has decided to leave Banjul tonight in the company of President-elect Barrow, for Bamako, for a meeting with the full body of heads of state of ECOWA countries," Onyeama said.
ECOWAS is made up of 15 member countries that are located in the Western African region. These countries have both cultural and geopolitical ties and shared common economic interest.