Isolated, Abandoned and Facing Military Intervention, Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh Gives Up Power

Gambian Dictator Yahya Jammeh

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The Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh, bowing to pressure from African nations, the African Union, and the United Nations Security Council, finally gave in and accepted to give up power.

 He threw in the towel on Friday, January 20, 2017, after a day-long mediation by the heads of state of Mauritania and Guinea. Increasingly isolated, abandoned by his own army and close aides, and facing military intervention by ECOWAS troops led by Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana, Yahya Jammeh finally accepted a diplomatic solution to the crisis in The Gambia.

In a statement on national television, in the middle of the night in Gambia, on January 21, 2017, he agreed to leave power, saying:

"I believe in the importance of dialogue and the ability of Africans to solve the challenges of democracy. That is why I decided today to leave the leadership of this great nation." He added that he wanted to "preserve the lives of his fellow citizens" and refused that a "drop of blood would be spilled".

"I have an immense gratitude towards all the Gambians who have supported me for the last 22 years to build a modern Gambia," he said, before concluding: "I submit only to the judgment of God the Almighty. I thank you all and pray that God continues to bless our homeland. "

The colorful Yahya Jammeh, whose complete name is Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh,  took power in a military coup in 1994, only aged 29 years. He was elected as President in 1996 and re-elected in 2001, 2006, and 2011.

During his reign, he has faced military coups, the most important being by the Army chief of staff Colonel Ndure Cham, which was followed by repressions.

Yahya Jammeh is known for making bizarre claims and behaviors.  He wanted to be called  "His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Aziz Awal Jemus Junkung Jammeh Naasiru Deen Babili Mansa" and the "Commander in Chief of The Armed Forces and Chief Custodian of the Sacred Constitution of the Gambia."

Although the content of the deal is still not publicly known, Yahya Jammeh is expected to go into exile in an African country, most likely Morocco where his second  wife, Zeinab Suma Jammeh, is from.