The head of a West African regional bloc says leaders will send troops into Gambia if its longtime president who lost elections does not step down next month.

Marcel de Souza tells reporters that the Economic Community of West African States has chosen Senegal to lead any military intervention if longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh does not hand over power on Jan. 19 when his mandate expires.

De Souza spoke to reporters in Bamako, Mali even as the regional bloc continues to try to use diplomacy to get Jammeh to accept his Dec. 1 defeat.

Jammeh took power in a coup 22 years ago and has been accused of using arbitrary detention and torture against opponents.

He surprised Gambians by at first accepting the election defeat but then changed his mind.

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