Defeated Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh who said he could cure AIDS with bananas goes into exile
Gambia’s defeated leader Yahya Jammeh and his family have gone into political exile after the authoritarian leader finally gave into the election results.
Jammeh left the country on a plane 24 hours after announcing on television that he would peacefully hand over power to Adama Barrow, the newly inaugurated president.
Jammeh landed in Guinea. Witnesses reported that a plane with just crew, and no passengers, landed from Malabo which is the capital of Equatorial Guinea. It is unknown if that is his final destination.
Adama Barrow, who formerly worked as an Argos security guard in the UK, won the elections in December. However, the 22 year long reigning leader contested the results.
The Gambian Embassy in Senegal held Barrow’s inauguration as tensions were growing in the country as Jammeh grew increasingly reluctant to hand over power.
“What is fundamental here is he will live in a foreign country as of now,” Barrow told The Associated Press.
Jammeh was notoriously anti-LGBT having previously threatened to slit the throats of gay people in his country.
The former president retracted a threat to decapitate gay people in Gambia, but said they would be driven out of their homes.
He had referred to gay people as “vermin” saying they should be dealt with like they are mosquitoes. He also claimed in September that he can cure AIDS with bananas, but only on Mondays and Thursdays.
Yahya Jammeh has ruled the country since 1994 came into power following a military coup. During his 22-year reign he has crushed any opposition to his regime and encouraged violence against the LGBT community.
In 2008, he was strongly criticised by EU officials after he vowed to introduce laws stricter than those in Iran, where gay acts between men are punishable by death.
Ahead of the election Jammeh cracked down on his political opponents as he banned international observers, post-election demonstrations and blocked access to the internet.
His tactical moves made hopes for a new president unlikely, so Barrow’s win came as a surprise to Gambia’s population.