After days of political drama, Yahaya Jammeh, the man who ruled the Gambia with an iron fist for two decades, succumbed to pressure to go into exile last Saturday.
His journey into exile began when he finally boarded a small unmarked aircraft in Banjul.
Some of his compatriots waved at him which he reciprocated while others shed tears.
Many others rejoiced at the glaring impossibility of bloodshed, now that he’s gone. Sharing the flight with him was the man who played a major role in the eventual brokering of a deal, President Alpha Conde.
He first landed in Conakry, Guinea, from where he quickly embarked another aircraft en route to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, to the waiting hands of another of Africa’s dictators.
The drama, which started with his rescission of defeat in the polls, soon got the regional body – Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – on its toes, as it dreaded the possibility of a long drawn war which repercussions could impose further stress on the lean purses of member countries.
The brewing trouble resonated at the United Nations’ Security Council which did not waste time in endorsing the deployment of troops from member-countries.
The man who said he was going to have the polls re-run did not get international support, the subject trending seriously in Ghana and other West African countries.
Adama Barrow, the preference of the opposition alliance, had to tactfully leave The Gambia for neighbouring Senegal where he was sworn in as The Gambia’s elected president at the country’s mission. The death of his son through a dog bite has triggered varied thoughts in both The Gambia and elsewhere in West Africa.
With no sign of dictator Jammeh letting go his hand on the country, the resolve of ECOWAS was strengthened, especially after the failure of junketing diplomacy to resolve the stalemate.
Senegal led the charge, entering The Gambia with no resistance, but at a point the regional body’s troops were asked to tarry a while as renewed efforts were put in by the visiting Mauritanian and Guinean presidents.
It got to a point where people did no longer believe in the stories originating from The Gambia in as much as they were concerned about the dictator’s departure arrangements: he was either pleading for more time or even engaging in further talks to the chagrin of the international community.
Even when his luggage was ready and loaded on to the aircraft, Yahaya Jammeh still danced around, showing maximum reluctance to go into exile.
According to Marcel Alain de Souza, ECOWAS President, the former Gambian strongman would remain in exile in his new home but could return to The Gambia in future; his lawfully acquired property not subject to seizure.
According to Mai Ahmed Fatty, spokesman for President Adama Barrow, there was no deal signed with the former president.
In a document making the rounds, he said it’s only a draft jointly prepared by the Guinean and Mauritanian Presidents but which he said was rejected outright by his boss.
He added that when it became clear that the dictator was not yielding, ECOWAS President ordered military action since according to him, Yahaya was not going to be allowed to pass a night in The Gambia.
“Within an hour, Jammeh agreed to depart. A few minutes after the departure, the president authorized the temporary closure of our air space to prevent the landing of a purported commercial cargo craft intended to airlift vehicles and other luxury belongings of Jammeh. There was NO deal,” Mai Ahmed Fatty said.
By A.R. Gomda With Additional Agency Reports