The Gambia’s former leader, Yahya Jammeh, has left the country after conceding defeat in an election under increasing international pressure.
Jammeh had lost the presidential election in December last year to Adama Barrow but said he would not relinquish power, claiming that there had been irregularities in the vote and pushing the country to the edge of war.
West African nations, which had been peacefully trying to convince him to leave, gradually turned to the idea of removing him militarily and put a regional force on standby as the official end of Jammeh’s mandate approached.
On Saturday, some two days after the expiration of his mandare, Jammeh finally announced a decision "to relinquish the mantle of leadership” and, now with his exit from the Gambia, the way was paved for President Adama Barrow to return home from neighboring Senegal, where had been inaugurated on Thursday.
Jammeh, who had taken power in a 1994 coup, demanded from the negotiators that he be given amnesty and safe passage out of the Gambia and that his political party be recognized. But no deal on amnesty was finalized with the negotiators and Jammeh was forced to go into exile.
Regional leaders did escort him into a plane, however, seeing him off into exile in Equatorial Guinea. His family and aides were to depart on a separate plane.
The fate of his party was not immediately clear.
During Jammeh’s reign, his government was accused of harsh treatment of opponents.