Embattled ruler of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, has asked for an extension of the deadline to stand down to 4 p.m, reports BBC.
Jammeh faced a “last chance saloon” deadline to step down as troops from five African nations stood by for action and key regional leaders flew in to make a final plea.
Mauritania’s Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz and Guinea’s Alpha Conde told reporters hope remained for a political resolution to the country’s handover crisis as they left for Banjul from Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital.
“We still have every chance for a peaceful solution,” Aziz said. “We have every interest in achieving that, we have enough conflicts in Africa going on without adding another.”
Conde said a political solution “must be found” before boarding their flight.
The pair were due in Banjul as troops already inside The Gambia postponed military intervention to give Jammeh, who was defeated in elections last month, a final chance to leave the presidency and the country quietly.
A previously announced noon (1200 GMT) deadline was expected to be extended to give the two leaders, who took off for Banjul after 1100 GMT, enough time to meet Jammeh.
The pair are long-term allies of the Gambian strongman, who has had more prickly relations with other west African leaders during the post-election crisis these last weeks.
Diplomats in Banjul had confirmed the last-ditch peace push, with one describing a “last chance saloon” moment before foreign troops led by Senegal remove Jammeh by force.
Jammeh has rejected President Adama Barrow’s December 1 election win, despite significant pressure from regional powers and the UN, sparking a major crisis and sending tourists — vital for the tiny country’s economy — fleeing.
In Conakry, minister and Conde advisor Kiridi Bangoura said Jammeh would be offered asylum in the country of his choice.