Defeated Gambian leader accepts defeat

Defeated Gambian leader accepts defeat

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Gambian President Yahya Jammeh

Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh has arrived at Banjul Airport after finally agreeing to accept defeat.

Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was in close contact with a small number of Irish citizens who had remained in Gambia despite a chaotic exodus of holidaymakers earlier this week, as the country teetered on the brink of a military conflict.

The UN Security Council had backed an effort by regional states to remove Yahya Jammeh as president.

Adama Barrow told The Associated Press in an interview on Saturday that he will enter Gambia once a security sweep has been completed.

He has been in neighbouring Senegal for his safety during a political stand-off that came to the brink of a regional military intervention.

Mr Barrow, who won December’s presidential elections, spoke just hours after Mr Jammeh announced he would relinquish power, ending hours of last-minute negotiations with the leaders of Guinea and Mauritania.

He said he has not yet been given the communique which should spell out the terms of Mr Jammeh’s departure. “What is fundamental here is he will live in a foreign country as of now,” he said.

Mr Barrow was inaugurated on Thursday at Gambia’s embassy in Senegal, with the backing of the international community.

As Mr Jammeh prepared to leave the country after more than 22 years in power, human-rights activists demanded he be held accountable for alleged abuses, including torture and detention of opponents.

It was those concerns about prosecution that led Mr Jammeh to challenge the December election results just days after shocking Gambians by conceding his loss to Mr Barrow.

Jeggan Bahoum, of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy in Gambia, said: “Jammeh came as a pauper bearing guns. He should leave as a disrobed despot.

“The properties he seeks to protect belong to Gambians and Gambia, and he must not be allowed to take them with him. He must leave our country without conditionality’s.”

An online petition called for Mr Jammeh to be arrested instead of being granted asylum.

Mr Barrow said: “We aren’t talking about prosecution here, we are talking about getting a truth and reconciliation commission.

“Before you can act, you have to get the truth, to get the facts together.”

Mr Jammeh, who first seized power in a 1994 coup, has been holed up this week in his official residence in Banjul, increasingly isolated as he was abandoned by his security forces and several Cabinet members.

The West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, pledged to remove Mr Jammeh by force if he did not step down.

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