The Gambia’s longtime leader Yahya Jammeh announced he would step down and go into exile in a televised speech in the early hours of Saturday, January 21.
West African troops entered The Gambia were prepared to remove Jammeh by force if needed.
Jammeh’s announcement came two days after Adama Barrow was sworn in as the Gambia’s new president in Dakar, Senegal. Jammeh initially rejected the December 1 election results but has agreed to a peaceful transition of power.
West African leaders, including President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritius and Alpha Conde of Guinea, arrived in capital Banjul on Friday to oversee the handover.
“I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians,” Jammeh said.
In the announcement, he said it was “not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed”.
“I promise before Allah and the entire nation that all the issues we currently face will be resolved peacefully,” he added.
Jammeh will now leave Banjul on Saturday with President Alpha Conde of Guinea, to begin a new life in exile.
All indications are that Jammeh will be going into exile in Guinea.
A senior adviser to Barrow said talks to finalise the exile deal were holding up his exit.
“I can assure you that he has agreed to leave,” Mai Ahmad Fatty, Barrow’s special advisor, said in Senegal’s capital Dakar. He could not say where Jammeh would go into exile.