Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh flew into exile Saturday night, ending 22 years of strong-arm rule and a political stalemate that brought the West African nation to the brink of a
regional military intervention.
He boarded a plane to Guinea and from there will travel on to exile in Equatorial Guinea, regional group Ecowas says.
He was accompanied by Guinean President Alpha Conde, who had sought in recent days to negotiate an exit plan.
The departure of Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 coup, opened the way for the transfer of power to Adama Barrow, who won the presidency seven weeks ago. Barrow, who was sworn in Thursday at Gambia’s embassy in neighboring Senegal, was now expected to return home.
Adama Barrow, celebrated as it became clear on Friday that Jammeh’s departure was imminent.
“The rule of fear has been banished from Gambia for good,” Barrow said in Dakar as he prepared to return to his homeland.
The outgoing president arrived at the airport amid a large convoy of vehicles and throngs of cheering supporters.
After 22 years in power, he left bound for Guinea where it’s believed he will stay before going on to another country.
Soldiers, supporters and dignitaries were emotional as he left – many of them crying. While others in The Gambia are just glad to see the end of what they considered a dictatorship, where there was little respect for human rights or freedom of speech.
For the record, Yahya Jammeh is the first president to peacefully hand over power in The Gambia since independence from Britain in 1965.