Saturday 24 June 2017

Defeated Gambia leader Yahya Jammeh agreeds to give up power

*Agrees to relinquish power
*Did not give any details about deal struck
*Will now leave within three days

FILE PHOTO - Gambia's President Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh attends the plenary session of the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island September 27, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
FILE PHOTO - Gambia's President Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh attends the plenary session of the Africa-South America Summit on Margarita Island September 27, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins/File Photo
FILE PHOTO - Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, who is also a presidential candidate for the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC), smiles during a rally in Banjul, Gambia, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon/File Photo
Gambia's President Adama Barrow is seen in Dakar, Senegal January 20, 2017 after a senior aide confirmed that Gambia's longtime leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to leave power REUTERS/Sophia Shadid
Gambia's President Adama Barrow is seen in Dakar, Senegal January 20, 2017 after a senior aide confirmed that Gambia's longtime leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to leave power. REUTERS/Sophia Shadid
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Gambia's defeated leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to relinquish power, after the threat by a regional military force to make him leave.

Mr Jammeh spoke early on Saturday on state television, saying: "I think it is not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed."

He promised that "all the issues we currently face will be resolved peacefully".

He did not give details on any deal that was struck, and it is not clear when Adama Barrow, who beat Mr Jammeh in last month's election, will return from neighbouring Senegal to take power.

FILE PHOTO - Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, who is also a presidential candidate for the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC), smiles during a rally in Banjul, Gambia, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon/File Photo
FILE PHOTO - Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, who is also a presidential candidate for the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC), smiles during a rally in Banjul, Gambia, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon/File Photo

Late on Friday, Mr Barrow declared that "the rule of fear" in the tiny West African nation had ended.

Shortly before Mr Jammeh's address, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz told reporters that a deal had been reached and Mr Jammeh would leave the country.

Gambia's President Adama Barrow is seen in Dakar, Senegal January 20, 2017 after a senior aide confirmed that Gambia's longtime leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to leave power REUTERS/Sophia Shadid
Gambia's President Adama Barrow is seen in Dakar, Senegal January 20, 2017 after a senior aide confirmed that Gambia's longtime leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to leave power REUTERS/Sophia Shadid

He and Guinean President Alpha Conde had handled the talks.

A State House official close to the situation said Mr Jammeh would leave within three days, possibly on Saturday with Mr Conde, who was spending the night in Gambia's capital, Banjul.

Gambia's President Adama Barrow is seen in Dakar, Senegal January 20, 2017 after a senior aide confirmed that Gambia's longtime leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to leave power. REUTERS/Sophia Shadid
Gambia's President Adama Barrow is seen in Dakar, Senegal January 20, 2017 after a senior aide confirmed that Gambia's longtime leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to leave power. REUTERS/Sophia Shadid

Mr Jammeh had refused to accept his loss to Mr Barrow, who was inaugurated on Thursday at Gambia's embassy in Senegal because of concerns for his safety.

Mr Jammeh, who first seized power in a 1994 coup, had been holed up in his official residence in Banjul, and had become increasingly isolated as his security forces abandoned him and he dissolved his Cabinet.

Defence forces chief Ousmane Badjie on Friday told The Associated Press that Gambia's security services now support Mr Barrow and would not oppose the regional force that was ready to move against Mr Jammeh if he refused to step down.

"You cannot push us to war for an issue we can solve politically," Mr Badjie said.

"We don't see any reason to fight."

The regional military force, including tanks, had rolled into Gambia without facing any resistance, said Marcel Alain de Souza, chairman of the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS.

At least 20 military vehicles were seen on Friday at the border town of Karang.

The force included troops from Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Togo and Mali, and they moved in after Mr Barrow's inauguration and a unanimous vote by the UN Security Council to support the regional efforts.

Fearing violence, about 45,000 people have fled Gambia for Senegal, according to the UN refugee agency.

Mr Jammeh had earlier greed to step down but demanded amnesty for any crimes he may have committed while in power and wanted to stay in Gambia, in his home village of Kanilai, Mr de Souza said on Friday.

Those demands were not acceptable to ECOWAS, he added.

In his address early Saturday, Mr Jammeh expressed "infinite gratitude to all Gambians" and said not a single person had been killed during the political crisis.

"Our decision today was not dictated by anything else but by you, the supreme interest of our Gambian people, and our dear country."

Banjul remained peaceful as the political crisis played out. Senegalese radio station RFM reported 30 Gambian soldiers had crossed into Senegal to join the regional forces.

Late on Friday, Mr Barrow addressed members of Gambia's diaspora and urged them to return home and rebuild their lives.

"I wish to congratulate all of you and welcome you to the new Gambia," he said.

Press Association

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