On January 21, Yahya Jammeh boarded a plane at Banjul’s international airport and left the country he had ruled for 22 years.
He had refused to accept election defeat in December. West African heads of state set off on a marathon month-long negotiation, taking turns to get him to accept the results. Eventually they gave Jammeh an ultimatum: either he steps down or 7,000 soldiers from the region step in to take back control of the country.
On January 19, foreign troops marched in as the country’s elected leader, Adama Barrow, was sworn in.
Jammeh took power after a bloodless coup in 1994, when he was a 29-year-old lieutenant. “We have no plans to stay long. What we are here for is to set a just system and to put up structures so that what happened in the past 13 years will never happen again,” he said back then.
But soon, he swapped his army uniform for a white traditional robe and changed his tone.
He ruled the country with an iron fist – imprisoning critics and political opponents. Human rights organisations accused him and his security forces of torture and enforced disappearances.
We talk to the men and women who helped bring Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year rule to an end.
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