BANJUL - Gambia's president has warned the international community against interfering in the country's political crisis, on the eve of talks with west African leaders who will urge him to step aside.
On state-run television late on Tuesday, Yahya Jammeh lashed out at "an unprecedented level of foreign interference in our elections and internal affairs and also a sustained smear campaign, propaganda and misinformation."
But the strongman of 22 years standing appeared more conciliatory to his own public than in recent weeks, without budging on his refusal to acknowledge opponent Adama Barrow as winner of a December 1 presidential election.
"I believe we can ask Gambians to come together to resolve this and any other matter without undue external interference," Jammeh said.
Leaders from the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) led by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will return on Friday with hopes of bringing a diplomatic end to the impasse ahead of Barrow's expected inauguration on January 19.
Jammeh attacked the UN Security Council, the African Union and ECOWAS -- all bodies that have urged him to respect the election result -- as taking "unprecedented and hasty resolutions against our republic and constitution."
The strongman took a softer tone with his people, ordering that "nobody be arrested or prosecuted" for actions relating to the pre and post election period, without specifying what such acts would be under the law.
He also appealed for patience, asking his people to "await the Supreme Court review and ruling on the election results," the earliest verdict on which is expected in May.
This still sets him on a collision course with Barrow, who has repeated that he expects to take power without delay once Jammeh's mandate runs out on January 18.