March 24, 2017

Former leader of The Gambia leaves country following threat of military intervention

23 January 2017, 01:29 | Erica Wilson

Jammeh steps down in Gambia, leaves country

Tourists are seen gathered as they board buses leaving for the airport a day after the country declared a state of emergency in Banjul

Yahya Jammeh, who led Gambia for 22 years but refused to accept defeat in a December election, flew out of Banjul late on Saturday en route to Equatorial Guinea as the regional force was poised to remove him.

Dogara said this while reacting to reports that Yahya Jammeh, the former Gambian President has gone on exile.

Meantime, the man who won the Gambian presidential election, Adama Barrow, has been sworn in as president in neighbouring Senegal, and has been recognised as the new president by the worldwide community.

Following Barrow's win in the December 1 election, Jammeh refused to step down, triggering weeks of uncertainty that nearly ended in a full military intervention.

However, Heads of State from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional political body, intervened and sent a mediation team to settle the impasse and urged him to step down but all those efforts proved fruitless.

Some of the 45,000 people who had fled the tiny country during the crisis began to return.

Jammeh, along with the UN's top representative for West Africa, Muhammad Ibn Chambas, and Guinean President Alpha Conde, left Banjul International Airport for an undisclosed location.

Speaking on Senegalese radio station RFM, Barrow denied that Jammeh had been offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for leaving the country.

Jammeh had been in charge of the country since 1994, having seized power during a military coup.

President Barrow has said he would return to the Gambia once a security sweep is complete.

Mr de Souza said the country "could not be left open" for long, however, and that Mr Barrow must be in place "as soon as possible".

"They were neutralised", he said, without elaborating.

Global rights lawyer Reed Brody said the declaration "doesn't give him an amnesty, and under worldwide law in fact you can't amnesty certain crimes like torture and massive or systematic political killings".

Barrow, speaking on RFM, said the document did not constitute a binding agreement and said that upon initial inspection it appeared Jammeh had looted state resources.

The new Gambian government was also made to promise that supporters and former members of Jammeh's administration will not be harassed.

Thousands of Gambians fearing violence fled to Senegal during these tense last few weeks.

Barrow, who has promised to reverse many of Jammeh's actions, told The Associated Press on Saturday he will launch a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate alleged human rights abuses of Jammeh's regime.

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