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Yahya Jammeh

The former President of The Gambia has made a nationwide broadcast to the Gambian people, explaining why he decided to relinquish power and wishing the country well as it turns a new political corner.

Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the country with an iron hand for 22 years, gave the explanation on Saturday morning in a speech broadcast on the state-owned Gambian Radio and Television Service (GRTS).

In the speech, Mr. Jammeh said he did his best for his country, and decided to give up power because of his commitment to the security and peace of The Gambia.

He said be believed in the importance of dialogue and was particualrly pleased that the political impasse that gripped the country since December 2016 did not lead to any loss of life.

The former President did not however indicate what he planned to do going forward and whether he would continue to play any role in the politics of the tiny West African nation.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly (GAMBIA)Read below Mr. Jammeh’s full speech as transcribed by PREMIUM TIMES Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed.

Fellow Gambians,

My first preoccupation as president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and a patriot is to protect at every instance and in every circumstance the lives of Gambians. And this is a duty I hold sacrosanct.

I have always strived for peace and security of our nation and Africa. During this entire time that Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah in his infinite wisdom has permitted me to exercise power, and throughout the time that the sovereign people of The Gambia have put their confidence in me, my primary preoccupation has been to uphold the dignity of our people and the sovereignty of this great nation.

As a result of all the numerous sacrifices that we and those before us have made as a nation, The Gambia has affirmed its desire to deepen its own future and destiny. This is a cause I have always been ready to defend, and even with my life. All the actions we have taken towards building this nation up to this point have distinguished us among the community of nations and given us a pride of place in history.

All this while, as a muslim and a patriot, I believe it is not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed. Since the beginning of this political impasse that our dear nation is going through, I promise before Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah and the entire nation that all the issues we currently face would be resolved peacefully.

I am indeed thankful to Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah that up till now, not a single casualty has been registered. I believe in the importance of dialogue and in the capacity of Africans to resolve among themselves all the challenges in the way towards democracy, economic and social development.

It is as a result of this that I have decided to, in good conscience, relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians – women, children, youth and men – and friends of the Gambia who have supported me for 22 years in the building of a modern Gambia. Above all, the independence of the free and proud people of the Gambia, and I will always, together with you, defend this independence that we so dearly fought for and worked for.

Our decision today was not dictated by anything else but by the supreme interest of you, the Gambian people and our dear country. Taking into consideration, my prayer and desire that peace and security continue to reign in the Gambia. At a time when we are witnessing trouble and wars in other parts of Africa and the world, the peace and security of the Gambia is our collective heritage which we must jealously guard and defend.

I am proud and honoured to have served our country, The Gambia. While thanking all of you, men women and children, members of the armed and security services, humble citizens and all those who have supported me or were against me during this period, I implore them all to put the supreme interest of our nation, The Gambia, above all partisan interests, and endeavour to work together as one nation to continue to preserve the highly cherished achievement of the country, its sovereignty, peace, stability and integrity as well as the economic achievements realised during these years.

I pray that the Gambia continues to be united and prosperous for the welfare of each and everyone of us and be the pride of all.

I subject myself only to the judgment of Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah whose judgment is above and beyond man, time and history. Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah is the only guarantor of peace and justice.

Finally, I am truly and sincerely proud to have been of service to you and our noble nation. I wish to thank each and everyone of the security forces, members of government, present and past, my party militants, and most importantly, you the Gambian people, and National Assembly members, past and present, for the confidence vested in me and your loyal support.

I pray that Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah continues to light and guide our path and to shine his light and blessing on our great and beautiful country.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank my mother, my wife and children for all their prayers and support throughout the past 22 years.

I thank you all, and may Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah continues to bless our motherland.

 

Watch full video below

 

For a better society

Adama Barrow, born on February 16, 1965, will be sworn in  on Thursday as President of The Gambia, having won the presidential election of 2016. He is a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP).  Prior to his presidential campaign, he was the treasurer of the UDP and operated a real estate agency. He established the agency, Majum Real Estate, in 2006 after returning from studies in London, England. He was initially going to become President on January 19, 2017, but on January 18, the Gambia Parliament, voted to extend incumbent Yahya Jammeh’s term by 90 days.

Early life and education

Barrow was born in Mankamang Kunda, a small Jimara village near Basse. He first attended the local Koba Kunda Primary School and then Crab Island Secondary School in Banjul before receiving a scholarship for Muslim High School. After graduation, he worked for Alhagie Musa & Sons and rose through the ranks until he became sales manager. Barrow then moved to London in the early 2000s, where he studied for a degree in real estate, while working as a security guard at an Argos catalogue store to finance his studies.

Business career

Barrow returned to the Gambia following his graduation. In 2006 he established Majum Real Estate and has since been chief executive officer (CEO) of the company.

Political career

In 2016, Barrow was chosen by a coalition of seven opposition parties as their endorsed candidate for the 2016 Gambian presidential election. Prior to becoming a candidate for the presidency, Barrow had not previously held any political office. He had been the treasurer of the UDP. He went on to defeat the long-term incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, in an upset. He will be sworn in about sixty days from his election, an event that will mark the country’s first change of presidency in 22 years and its first change of presidency by democratic means since independence from Britain in 1965. Jammeh initially indicated that a smooth handover of power would take place, but days later said that he rejected the election result.

Barrow has called for Yahya Jammeh to give up power peacefully. The defeated president refused to accept the elections results, as he appealed his loss to the Supreme Court. Jammeh has also vowed to remain in power, until the court’s decision, expected to be in May.

Campaign promises:

He has promised to return The Gambia to its membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. He also promised to reform security forces, suggesting that they should be “distanced from politics”.

Barrow has said that, if elected, he would set up a temporary transition government formed of members from the opposition coalition and would step down within three years.

Personal life:

Barrow has two wives and five children. He is a devout Muslim, who says faith guides his life and politics and often invokes Allah in his speeches. He supports the English football team Arsenal.

Habibu Barrow, his eight-year-old son, died after being bitten by a dog on January 15, 2017. Barrow could not attend his son’s funeral due to staying in Senegal for security reasons, following ECOWAS recommendation.

Ethnic identity and views on tribalism

He has been reported to be a member of the Fula ethnic group, which the United Democratic Party (UDP) has said is the second largest ethnic group in The Gambia (the largest being the Mandinka). He has also been reported to be Mandinka, based on his father’s ethnicity, but more identified with Fulas in social and cultural terms, having had a Mandinka father and a Fula mother. He grew up speaking the Fula language in a village and district that are primarily Fula, and both of his wives are Fula.

When asked about the topic and his views on what he envisions for The Gambia, he said he has mixed ethnic background and that he is not a tribalist:

It would be an inclusive country where tribalism will not have a place. I am the least tribalists person you will ever see. I have mixed ethnic blood in me. I am a Sarahule, Mandinka and Fula. Two of my sisters from the same mum and dad are married to Jolas. So, tribe is not important. What is important is that we are all Gambians and should unite and work for the progress of our country.

 

For a better society.

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