Gambia has had a rollercoaster ride these past few weeks; one that featured more dread than thrills as their 22 year President, Yahya Jammeh chose to renege on his concession after the December 1 polls and instead requested for fresh polls.
Now, as Yahya Jammeh steps down the real celebration for Gambia’s new dawn can actually begin.
When President Adama Barrow was inaugurated on Thursday in Senegal, the citizens of Gambia had celebrated. At that point, though, Yahya Jammeh whose mandate had expired was still holding on to power and ECOWAS and other African states had deployed military might to bend him to the will of the people.
For that reason, the celebrations felt false. It seemed like Gambia was not going to have a happy ending but would rather face a violent transition that would lead to loss of lives and undermine the country’s democracy.
As the head of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS announced a suspension of the military action in the state for one more shot at diplomacy, one could only wonder if the people of Gambia dared hope for a peaceful resolution.
The final deadline given to Yahya Jammeh was to expire at 12 noon yesterday but the outgoingPresident had asked for an extension. After 12 hours of talks in talk, Mauritania’s president, Mohamed Abdel Aziz who brokered the deal alongside Guinea President Alpha Conde, confirmed that an agreement had been reached.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, Abdul Aziz told the Guardian:
“We are very happy. It’s a victory for the country against violence. We’re delighted to have reached this deal, which saves the Gambia, the Gambian people.”
Democracy Wins; Yahya Jammeh steps down
Yahya Jammeh later appeared on Gambian state TV announcing his concession;
” I believe in the importance of dialogue … I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of this great nation,”
” All the issues we currently face can be resolved peacefully. I believe in the capacity of Africans to decide for themselves all the issues on the way to democracy, social and economic development.”
” My prayer and desire [is] that peace and security continue to reign in The Gambia.” The country “must jealously guard and defend” peace,”
Meanwhile, President Adama Barrow spoke to the members of the Gambian diaspora in the capital of Senegal on Friday night, stating that:
“The rule of fear has been vanqished from the Gambia for good.”
As Yahya Jammeh steps down, all that is indeed true, Gambia may face many more trials and troubles ahead but they can face it with a man that they have selected to rule them.