Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh was ready to fight West African forces deployed to unceremoniously kick him out of power, his political host, Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang said.
“ECOWAS forces wanted to occupy the country and perhaps that would have been a bloodbath for the citizens of The Gambia. The outgoing president was ready to fight,” said Obiang.
“I felt as an individual I should do something. I spoke to him [Jammeh] on the phone and I suggested that he [Jammeh] should leave power to avoid a bloodbath.”
Jammeh had been longed backed by the Gambia’s army, which has thwarted nearly a dozen coups, the last of which was hatched in the United States by dissidents, most of whom were ex-soldiers.
His army chief, Lt. Gen. Ousman Bargie has declined to order his men to fight the ECOWAS force that had crossed the Gambian border. Bargie said he would not engage his men in a “stupid war for politicians.”
Jammeh’s elite presidential guard, which was filled with his loyalists were ill-equipped to match the firepower of the regional troops, which had naval and air support from Nigeria, one of Africa’s strongest military.
At least 150 Gambians were internally displaced and 75,000 more fled to neighboring Senegal fearing a fierce fight being those loyal to Jammeh and the ECOWAS troops, sparking a humanitarian crisis in northern border towns.
Normalcy returned to The Gambia since Jammeh fled. Obiang and Jammeh are human rights abusers. While Equatorial Guinea is not a member of the International Criminal Court, Jammeh attempted to pull the Gambia from the international tribunal, a decision that the new government of Adama Barrow quickly reversed.
Corruption, poverty and repression continue to plague Equatorial Guinea under Mr. Obiang, who killed his uncle in a coup to come to power in 1979. Vast oil revenue fund lavish lifestyles for the president and his political allies at the expense of poor 1.2 million people in the nation.
Just like under Jammeh, who embezzled billions during his reign, mismanagement of public funds and credible allegations of high-level corruption persist, as do other serious abuses, including torture, arbitrary detention, and unfair trials, says Human Rights Watch.