Gambia Crisis Ends as Jammeh Quits

Gambia Crisis Ends as Jammeh QuitsGambia Crisis Ends as Jammeh Quits

Gambia’s ex-leader, Yahya Jammeh, has flown out of the country he ruled for 22 years and into exile, bringing an end to a protracted political crisis following presidential elections last month.

The longtime ruler refused to step down after a December 1 vote in which opposition leader Adama Barrow was declared the winner, triggering weeks of tension as West African leaders threatened to use military force to oust him if he failed to step down, Aljazeera reported.

Jammeh boarded a small, unmarked plane at an airport in the capital, Banjul, late on Saturday, alongside Guinea’s President Alpha Conde after two days of negotiations over a departure deal. He landed in Conakry, Guinea’s capital, but set off again for Equatorial Guinea, where he will remain in exile, the president of the Economic Community of West African States, Marcel Alain de Souza, told journalists.

“No legislative measures” would be taken that would infringe the “dignity, security, safety and rights” of Jammeh or his family, ECOWAS said in a joint declaration with the African Union and United Nations.

Jammeh could return to Gambia when he pleased, the statement added, and property “lawfully” belonging to him would not be seized.

“The agreement essentially says there can be no prosecution against Jammeh, his family or his entourage. There will be no seizure of his assets, no witch-hunts, and he can be back to the country at any time,” Aljazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from Dakar in neighboring Senegal, said. “It might sound like a good deal for Jammeh but we have to bear in mind that this is a political document, not a legally binding one, so it still brings hopes for those wanting to prosecute Jammeh or those in the security services over alleged human rights violations.”

Human rights activists have repeatedly demanded that Jammeh be held accountable for alleged abuses, including torture and detention of opponents. Speaking to AP on Saturday, Barrow urged caution after an online petition called for Jammeh to be arrested, and not be granted asylum.

The new president, who had sought shelter in the neighboring country, said he favors launching a “truth and reconciliation commission” to investigate possible crimes by Jammeh.

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