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Gambia's Barrow Heading Home as Defeated Jammeh Agrees to Leave

  • VOA News

In this image taken from TV, Gambia's longtime leader Yahya Jammeh appears on state TV to give a brief statement agreeing to step down from office, in Banjul, Gambia, in the early hours of Jan. 21, 2017.

Newly-elected Gambian President Adama Barrow posted on Twitter Saturday that he will return to his homeland and assume power now that defeated leader Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down and leave the country.

​Jammeh, who is expected to leave for Guinea within hours, agreed Friday to peacefully hand over power to Barrow, who is waiting in neighboring Senegal for safety reasons.

Jammeh's departure ends a political standoff that pushed Gambia to the brink of a military intervention by West African forces. The regional forces have been in Gambia for about a week because of Jammeh's refusal to concede defeat in last month’s presidential poll.

Gambia's Adama Barrow waves after his inauguration at Gambia's embassy in Dakar, Senegal, Jan. 19, 2017.
Gambia's Adama Barrow waves after his inauguration at Gambia's embassy in Dakar, Senegal, Jan. 19, 2017.

Jammeh's decision brings to a close a reign that started 22 years ago when he seized power in a coup. His authoritarian government had a reputation for torturing and killing perceived opponents to suppress dissent.

The former Gambian president negotiated Friday with the presidents of Guinea and Mauritania before agreeing to step down. Sources close to the talks said they discussed where Jammeh would live and whether he would be granted amnesty for alleged crimes committed during his reign.

Barrow, a property developer, led an opposition coalition few political observers thought would win. "The rule of fear has been banished from Gambia for good," Barrow said Friday in Dakar after it became clear Jammeh would cede power.

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