The usually sprawling and bustling streets of suburban Banjul are eerily quiet. More than 45,000 Gambians fled the West African nation as regional forces were poised to depose the country’s longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh agreed to cede power to Adama Barrow, a businessman and political novice, who defeated him in last month’s polls after West African troops crossed into the country from Senegal to flush him out.
Despite growing international pressure and unprecedented local resistance, Jammeh was refusing to hand over power to Mr. Barrow.
A handful of people is on the streets and few corner stores opened for business as life cripples back to normalcy.
Since former President Jammeh announced his will to step down, Gambians were joyful but did not take to the streets for open celebrations, fearful that he may rescind his latest decision.
Jammeh initially accepted defeat and Gambians jubilated on the streets only for him to reverse it a week later sparking the crisis.
Gambians are waiting for Jammeh to fly out of the country with Guinean President Alpha Conde to Conakry, where he has a home before they celebrate their new found freedom and the end of his two-decade repressive rule.
Gambia’s military chief Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie who had flip-flopped his allegiance was seen celebrating with a few hundred people at Westfield Square after new broke that ECOWAS troops were marching towards Banjul.
A special plane also landed from Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, with only a crew and no passengers, suggesting that could be Jammeh’s final destination. Equatorial Guinea, unlike Guinea, is not a state party to the International Criminal Court.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Reporting and Writing by Sainey Darboe; Additional Reporting from Aljazeera)