DAKAR: Former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh flew into exile in Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, making way for democracy in his home country after his 22-year rule there. Jammeh lost the December 1 election to President Adama Barrow, but spent weeks trying to overturn the election result. He eventually relinquished power after a delegation of West African leaders convinced him to step down, even as troops from neighbouring countries entered Gambia. Jammeh left Banjul, the Gambian capital, late on Saturday. He had a brief stopover in Guinea before continuing to Equatorial Guinea.
He attached conditions to his departure, demanding protection from future prosecution and leave to contest future elections in Gambia. It is unclear whether these conditions have been granted.
Many Gambians, however, are angry that Jammeh was allowed to leave at all, according to a statement by Mai Ahmad Fatty, an executive member of the Coalition of President Adama Barrow. He added that the coalition was shocked that a cargo plane was allowed to leave with Jammeh’s “loot.”
Fatty rejected claims that Barrow’s coalition had signed a declaration of impunity for Jammeh, allegedly supported by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He said Barrow had seen what they understood as a draft document and rejected it as a “non-starter.”
“Gambia will neither respect nor honour what was contained in that joint declaration,” said Fatty. “We don’t consider it legally binding on us.”
The African Union, ECOWAS and the United Nations released a joint statement congratulating Gambia on a peaceful transition. The statement also outlined that Jammeh and his family should not become targets and that his rights as a citizen should be respected during what will be temporary stay outside of the country.
Barrow said he plans to establish a commission to investigate potential wrongdoing by Jammeh.
Ahead of his inauguration, Barrow had to flee to Senegal amid security concerns.
He will return once his safety is guaranteed. ECOWAS troops remain in Gambia, where they will work with the local military to secure the new president’s return. — DPA