While Gambia’s President Adama Barrow and Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari were basking in the sun for ousting Jammeh and sending him into exile, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang accused the leaders of occupying mainland Africa’s smallest nation.
Obiang, the 72-year-old ruler of the oil-rich Central African nation hosting Gambia’s ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh said the West African forces sent to flush Jammeh out of power were an “occupying force.”
“ECOWAS forces wanted to occupy the country and perhaps that would have been a bloodbath for the citizens of The Gambia [if Jammeh did not go peacefully],” Obiang said in an interview with France24 and RFI.
It is the first time that Obiang spoke of Jammeh publicly. He has credited himself for preventing a bloodbath in The Gambia. West African forces marched into The Gambia’s capital, Banjul and forced Jammeh into exile.
Jammeh party, APRC also described the regional troops as an occupying force. Clashes between the troops and supporters of the ex-ruler in Jammeh’s native village of Kanilai left at least one person dead and a handful of people injured.
The leader of a new opposition party, Omar Beyai of the APP has also described the West African troops as an occupying force in several interviews, accusing President Adama Barrow of conniving with regional leaders to mortgage the small nation.
Obiang gave Jammeh, accused of human rights abuses a safe haven in one of his opulent mansions in Malabo and a land to continue his farming practice. Jammeh had wanted to retire in The Gambia as a farmer.
An international campaign has been launched to have Jammeh returned to The Gambia but Obiang said dragging the ex-strongman to court after peacefully leaving power will set a bad political precedent.
Obiang survived a coup earlier this month. Some 30 gunmen were arrested across the border in Cameroon. Obiang, who has run Equatorial Guinea since 1979, claims “a group of terrorists” were recruited in Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan to overthrow him.