Gambia’s defeated dictator Yahya Jammeh has agreed to cede power and leave the West African nation, a close aide to President Adama Barrow said.
An agreement has been reached and being finalized by the presidents of Mauritania and Guinea who are in Banjul in a last-minute diplomatic effort for Mr. Jammeh to hand over power.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow had authorized West African forces to depose Jammeh. Military general halted their march towards the capital but said they will resume if negotiations failed Friday.
West African nations, including Senegal, have deployed troops in The Gambia – threatening to drive Mr. Jammeh out of office by force.
Red carpets laid for the departure of the departure of Guinea’s Alpha Conde and Mauritania’s Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz were folded by soldier Friday evening, signs that they were not leaving.
Former President Yahya Jammeh is expected to leave Gambia on Saturday with Guinean and Mauritanian leaders. His destination is unknown.
Jammeh with his family had been offered asylum in Nigeria and Morocco, where he has assets and businesses. His wife, Zineb Jammeh is Moroccan.
President Yahya Jammeh is unpredictable and unreliable. He may wake up to rescind his decision as he did a week after he initially conceded defeat.
Jammeh, however, is not in the position to really negotiate losing leverage. His security chiefs including the military chief pledged their loyalty to Mr. Barrow.
Mr. Barrow has been in neighboring Senegal for days. He was sworn in at the Gambian embassy there on Thursday.
Celebrations erupted in Banjul, meanwhile, where tensions have run high especially since the declaration of a state of emergency by Jammeh made on Tuesday.
At least 46,000 people have fled Gambia for Senegal since the start of the crisis fearing unrest, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR said, citing Senegalese government figures.
But Jammeh’s allies have deserted in their droves – at least eight ministers have so far resigned of whom four quit in the past 48 hours – and it is unclear how many of his own armed forces will be willing to defend him once his mandate expires.
Gambia is one of Africa’s smallest countries and has had just two rulers since independence in 1965.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Reporting from Aljazeera, BBC, Reuters, AFP)