Gambia: Former leader flies out of Banjul airport with President of Guinea

As Yahya Jammeh climbs the stairs to the plane, he turns to the crowd, kisses his Quran and waves to his supporters for one final time 

Sunday 22 January 2017 01:05
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Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh boards a private jet before departing Banjul airport
Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh boards a private jet before departing Banjul airport

The Gambia’s former leader Yahya Jammeh has flown out of the capital Banjul and into political exile, ending his 22-year-reign.

Mr Jammeh arrived at the airport with Alpha Conde, the president of Guinea, who served as a mediator during the crisis.

The pair are thought to be heading to Guinea and from there the former leader will move to an unknown country.

As Mr Jammeh climbed the stairs to the plane, he turned to the crowd, kissed his Quran and waved to his supporters, including soldiers who cried at his departure.

Al Hadji Yahya Jammeh at Banjul airport

The authoritarian leader took power in a 1994 coup and has stepped down after facing pressure from West African armies that entered Gambia to force him to recognise that he lost an election to President Adama Barrow.

Mr Barrow said he would launch a “truth and reconciliation commission” to investigate all possible crimes Mr Jammeh may have committed.

"We aren't talking about prosecution here, we are talking about getting a truth and reconciliation commission," Mr Barrow told the Associated Press.

"Before you can act, you have to get the truth, to get the facts together."

Human rights activists had demanded Mr Jammeh be held responsible for allegedly torturing and detaining opponents.

All flights to the UK from Gambia have been suspended amid the crisis and the Foreign Office has issued an alert.

In a statement on its website, Thomas Cook said it had activated contingency plans and was laying on extra flights to remove 985 package tour customers from the nation.

It was also trying to contact a further 2,500 “flight only” tourists in Gambia to arrange for their departure on the earliest available flight.

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