ACCRA, Ghana — The West African regional bloc stands with the people of Gambia and will apply diplomatic solutions to solve the country’s political crisis, the body’s chair said Saturday.

The Economic Community of West African States has before threatened to send troops if President Yahya Jammeh does not step down when his mandate ends on Jan. 19.

The longtime leader lost a Dec. 1 election to opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow. Jammeh initially conceded, but later called for a new vote. The United Nations, the United States, the European Union and others have united in criticizing him.

Jammeh’s party filed a petition to the country’s Supreme Court against the election, and a key court ruling is expected Jan. 10.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Saturday the West African bloc, which she chairs, hopes diplomacy will help democracy prevail in Gambia.

“We want to apply diplomatic solutions to solve the problem,” Sirleaf said. Asked if troops would be moved into Gambia she responded, “No, we want to keep the region peaceful.”

However, in recognition of the solidifying crisis, the United States on Saturday advised Americans not to travel to Gambia “because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future.”

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