Former Gambia President Yayah Jammeh yesterday departed his official abode of the last 22 years, the Banjul State House, to start a new life in exile.
His first destination was nearby Conakry, Guinea, whose President Alpha Conde and Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould
Abdel Aziz, spent much of Friday with him in Banjul to trash out issues like where he would live and whether he could be offered amnesty for alleged crimes committed during his years in power.
Yesterday morning, the disgraced leader took to the air to address Gambians on his next move after turning down earlier persuasions to accept the result of last month’s election and leave office.
As Jammeh spoke, the new President Adama Barrow said in nearby Senegal from where he will move to Banjul that he will set up a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the alleged human rights abuses of Jammeh’s regime.
But Barrow explained that it is too soon to say whether the former president could face trial at the International Criminal Court or elsewhere.
Jammeh in his broadcast claimed that he decided to give up power because of his commitment to the security and peace of the country.
His words: “All this while, as a Muslim and a patriot, I believe it is not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed.
“Since the beginning of this political impasse that our dear nation is going through, I promised before Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah and the entire nation that all the issues we currently face would be resolved peacefully.
“I am indeed thankful to Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah that up till now, not a single casualty has been registered.
“I believe in the importance of dialogue and in the capacity of Africans to resolve among themselves all the challenges in the way towards democracy, economic and social development.
“It is as a result of this that I have decided to, in good conscience, relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians – women, children, youth and men – and friends of the Gambia who have supported me for 22 years in the building of a modern Gambia.
“Above all, the independence of the free and proud people of the Gambia, and I will always, together with you, defend this independence that we so dearly fought for and worked for.”
He said his decision to quit was “not dictated by anything else but by the supreme interest of you, the Gambian people and our dear country.”
With him as he was driven out of the State House were his mother, wife Zainab, son Mohammed and President Conde,according to Agence de Presse Africaine (APA).
It said a Mauritanian plane was on standby to take Jammeh and his entourage away.
It was not immediately clear whether his stay in Guinea will be permanent.
The BBC reported at 10.30 last night that the plane had taken off for Guinea with Jammeh,his family and President Conte on board.
An anti-Jammeh website, freedomradio, reported yesterday that Jammeh’s supporters “appeared sad and distressed” as he made to leave town.
It added: “The airport is a ghost airport today (yesterday). Jammeh and his enablers are crying.
“Yahya Jammeh is history. He was booed while leaving town. His supporters have all gone into hiding.
“The end of Jammeh has become a sad story. All his so called loyalists have abandoned him.”
However, Barrow in an interview in Dakar, Senegal 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.”
Barrow also said yesterday that he would be returning to his country on the completion of the on-going security sweep.