Yahya Jammeh, former president of The Gambia, has spoken for the first time since it was confirmed he will be stepping down. Jammeh will leave Banjul on Saturday, January 21, with President Alpha Conde of Guinea, to begin a new life in exile. His decision to surrender was followed peace moves by Conde and Mauritania’s President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Friday, January 20. The two West African leaders travelled to Banjul to persuade the long ruling Jammeh to leave peacefully before West African forces pounced on him.
Jammeh had initially insisted that he will not leave the position of presidency in spite of the fact that he lost the presidential election to Adama Barrow. The former president in a seven-minute state broadcast, said he was committed to preserving the lives of citizens and avoid blood shed. He said: “Fellow Gambians, my first preoccupation as president and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and a patriot is to preserve at every instance and in every circumstance, the lives of Gambians and this is a duty I hold sacrosanct. As a Muslim and as a patriot, I believe that it is not necessary that any blood be shed. It is as a result of this that I have decided today (Friday) in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation.” According to Guinean officials, Jammeh is expected to move to Conakry after leaving Gambia.