The presidents of Equatorial Guinea and Guniea Conakry said they will protect Gambia’s exiled leader, Yahya Jammeh if authorities in Jammeh’s country demand his extradition.
Jammeh and his family were given a safe haven in Equatorial Guinea after he lost elections and West African forces were mobilized to flush him out of power, following a political logjam.
“I believe that the stance of protecting former heads of state is a correct one,” he said after meeting with Condé, who is also the African Union president. “I hail Alpha Condé who told me he will not accept any demand for Yahya Jammeh’s extradition. Even I will not accept it.
“We are in full agreement that Yahya Jammeh must be protected. He must be respected as a former African leader. Because this is a guarantee for other African leaders that they will not be harassed after they leave power,” he said.
Gambia’s President Adama Barrow said his government is engaging the African Union and Equatorial Guinea at a bilateral level over Jammeh’s fate. A human rights commission has been set up to investigate alleged crimes under Jammeh’s regime.
An inquiring into the financial malpractices of the former autocratic ruler in ongoing and Mr. Barrow told reporters that he is shocked at the sum of taxpayers’ funds that the erstwhile leader siphoned.
“We are more than willing to engage Equatorial Guinea in bringing Jammeh to justice. We are even engaging them at the bilateral level and at the level of the African Union,” Barrow said, while promising victims justice.
“I never thought it was so serious: a sitting president running more than 80 bank accounts,” he said. “Now, Allah’s World Bank has been revealed.”
Jammeh amassed wealth for himself and his immediate loyalists, some of whom were deprived of all they got after they fall out of favor with him. He accuses them of corruption and economic crimes, jailing them for years.
Gambian authorities last year seized Jammeh’s assets and the U.S sanctioned him for alleged human rights abuses and corruption during his reign. The Gambia doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Equatorial Guinea and the Central African nation is not a member of the International Criminal Court.
An international campaign has been launched to have Jammeh returned to the Gambia to stand trial. #Jammeh2Justice Campaign is seeking to have the former military strongman returned and now have the despot hunter, Reed Brody with them to drag Jammeh to court.
Human rights groups have called on the new Gambian government to prosecute those responsible for grave crimes committed during the 22-year rule of Yahya Jammeh. But Jammeh and most of his cohorts have escaped the country, evading prosecution.
Several African leaders accused of human rights abuses continue to be protected. Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore has a safe haven in Ivory Coast, and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos continue to be protected by their political allies that make the new governments of their nations.