Embattled defeated Gambian leader, Yahaya Jammeh, yesterday pleaded for more time as the deadline for him to go into exile neared, and with the entry into the country of West African soldiers.
The man is showing signs of confusion because of his changing positions, having vowed to fight back, and now pleading for time.
Jammeh was reported to have sacked his cabinet yesterday, with military chiefs joining residents to see the end of the brute leader.
The Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow, had said that Yahaya Jammeh, who ruled the country for 22 years and refused to step down after losing the recent election, has finally “agreed to leave.”
Writing on Twitter on Friday, Adama Barrow said Jammeh would also leave the country.
“I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today. #NewGambia,” he tweeted.
Barrow was sworn in as President at The Gambia’s Embassy in Dakar in neighbouring Senegal, on Thursday.
Red carpets were on Friday reportedly laid out at the airport in The Gambia’s capital in what appeared to be preparations for a speech by Jammeh and then a departure.
Also on Friday, The Gambia’s chief of defence forces, Ousmane Badjie, pledged his allegiance to the country’s new president, a major shift as mediation continued to persuade defeated Jammeh to cede power.
Jammeh had rejected Barrow’s December 1 election win, despite significant pressure from regional powers and the United Nations (UN), sparking a major constitutional crisis.
The situation in The Gambia at the time of compiling this report was in a state of flux as negotiations between the former leader and some African leaders continued.
The most critical development, however, was the entry of Senegalese and other West African soldiers.
Their thrust into the country and towards Banjul was halted only when they were ordered to tarry a while as the embattled former leader threw in more excuses.
Nigerian Air Force fighter jets had undertaken a few sorties in a show of force over The Gambia – something which definitely demoralized the embattled politician, who now sees the end near.
Ghanaians have been following the developments as are other West Africans whose troops are part of the regional bloc’s soldiers.
This is the fifth time West African troops have been ordered to undertake such an operation on the request of the regional bloc.
An elated Adama Barrow has expressed gratitude to the regional body – Economic Community of West African States – (ECOWAS), for intervening in the stalemate in his country after he was sworn in at his country’s embassy in Senegal.
“This is a victory of The Gambian nation. Our flag will now fly high among those of the most democratic nations of the world,” President Barrow said soon after he was sworn in.
He also demanded loyalty from his armed forces.
The UN Security Council, it would be recalled, had unanimously backed ECOWAS’ decision to force Jammeh out of power.
It is only a matter of time for the embattled dictator to relinquish power.
Soldiers did not stop the jubilation by the Gambians when it became apparent that the end had come for Yahaya Jammeh, the Defence Chief partaking in the celebration of the moment.
There were only a few soldiers in Banjul and none of them appeared ready to engage in a firefight in which they would not survive.
A Senegalese Army Officer had told an AFP reporter that Nigerian, Ghanaian, Togolese and Malian troops were involved in the operation to get Jammeh out and to ensure that Adama Barrow took office, having been sworn in earlier.
There has been a steady flow of congratulatory messages from the international community, including the UN Secretary General, a development which should send a clear message to Yahaya Jammeh that the end has come.
By A.R. Gomda With Agency Reports