At Last Gambian Leader, Jammeh Quits

Former President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh
Former President of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh

The Gambia’s President, Adama Barrow has said that former President, Yahya Jammeh will step down and leave the country.

Barrow made the disclosure in a post on his social media handle after hours of talks aimed at persuading Jammeh to peacefully hand over power.

Moments later, Jammeh himself took to national television to announce the decision, saying that it was “not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed”.

“I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians.

“I promise before Allah and the entire nation that all the issues we currently face will be resolved peacefully,” he said.

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Shortly before the TV address, Mauritanian President Mohamed Abdel-Aziz said that a deal had been struck and that Jammeh would leave the country. He gave no further details.

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS had deployed troops in The Gambia threatening to force Jammeh out of office.

President Barrow has been in neighbouring Senegal for days where he was sworn in at the Gambian embassy there on Thursday.

His legitimacy as president has been recognised internationally, and the United Nations security council approved ECOWAS decision to deploy troops to The Gambia.

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The presidents of Guinea and Mauritania were locked in talks with Jammeh for hours on Friday negotiating his future, after the Gambian leader had requested for more time following the expiration of the earlier deadline given to him by ECOWAS.

Reports say the motorcade for the delegation of West African leaders was later seen leaving The Gambia’s presidential residence, but it was not immediately clear if Mr Jammeh was inside one of the dozens of vehicles.

ECOWAS said that its forces from Senegal, Nigeria and other West African countries had encountered no resistance after entering The Gambia.

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Jammeh’s term expired at midnight on Wednesday – but, while still president, he engineered a parliamentary vote to extend his presidency.

After first accepting defeat in the election, Jammeh, who has been The Gambia’s President for 22 years, reversed his position and said he would not step down.

He declared a 90-day state of emergency, blaming irregularities in the electoral process.

The electoral commission accepted that some of its early results had contained errors but said the errors would not have affected Barrow’s win.