Former Gambian President Yaya Jammeh left the capital city of Banjul Saturday night, giving way for Adama Barrow to return from Senegal’s Dakar and assume power as the West African country’s third president since independence in 1965.
The longtime ruler of the tiny West Africa country left with dozens of his ex-government members, security officials and family members, including his Moroccan wife and son.
Guinean President Alfa Conde, Mauritanian President Abdul Aziz and U.N. chief for West Africa Mohammad Ibn Chambas on Friday persuaded Jammeh to give up power and leave the country after more than 11 hours of talks at the State House.
Jammeh, wearing his habitual white flowing robes, waved to supporters before boarding a small airplane heading to Guinea first, and then to Equatorial Guinea, where he would remain in exile.
A few hundred of relatives and supporters who came to see Jammeh to set off broke into tears at the Banjul airport.
“We will never forget this man,” said Abdou Njie. “He’s our hero. Some people don’t like him but I know what he’s done for us”.
“I am quite emotional today,” said another supporter, Ousman Badjan. “What he’s done is what is best for the country. He did it for us”.
However, Famara Jatta has a different feeling. “This is a victory for freedom,” he said. “We’ve been living under dictatorship for 20 years. That’s a long time. Our brothers and sisters are in exile and cannot come back because of Yaya Jammeh. They are Gambians.”
Jammeh plunged his country, known as the Smiling Coast of West Africa, into a political crisis, after rejecting the presidential election result in December which declared Adama Barrow as president.
Two ECOWAS mediation efforts had failed. Senegal-led ECOWAS troops were then deployed at the border with Gambia, waiting for an order to remove Jammeh by force had Friday’s talks fail.
Before leaving the country, Jammeh appeared on TV on Friday to announce that he was relinquishing power “in the supreme national interest of Gambia.”
After his departure, life soon returns to the capital of Banjul, which has been a ghost city for the past 72 hours. Shops and businesses are open again and people have returned to the streets. The military no longer patrols the streets of the capital. Enditem