The Gambia strongman and longtime president Yahya Jammeh has finally relinquished power and flown to Guinea after twenty two years in control of the tiny West African state.
Jammeh seized power
Jammeh seized the Gambia in a coup after ousting the then president Sir Dawda Jawara in 1994 and has since ruled the West African state with an iron fist. Confirmed reports indicate multitudes of people celebrated his departure, which has given a glimpse of hope to the country plagued by extreme human rights violations and lack of freedom of expression..
According to the BBC, Mr. Jammeh left the Capitol accompanied by his wife and Guinea President Alpha Conde and boarded a plane destined for Guinea. His departure comes in the wake of a military intervention threat from ECOWAS to forcefully remove him from power if he dared to reject the demand by regional leaders to cede power to Mr. Adama Barrow.
Mr. Yahya Jammeh was defeated in the December election by little known businessman Adama Barrow. Though Jammeh initially conceded defeat, he later changed his tune, citing massive irregularities in the voting process. Even though he had previously vowed to rule the Gambia for a billion years if Allah allowed him, he has in the recent week suffered a huge blow after his cronies (including the head of the army) deserted him.
Other dictators in Africa
While the way is paved for the democratically elected president Adama Barrow to take over, there remains a spate of dictators across #Africa whose grip on power has scarred the continent and hindered growth of political pluralism.
Yoweri Museveni of Uganda came to power in 1986 and has shown no indication of leaving anytime soon. He has been accused of brutality, cracking down on opposition leaders and human rights activists. Even though President Museveni has periodical organized elections, he has allegedly used state machinery to manipulate the results.
In Zimbabwe, longtime leader Robert Mugabe has overseen a failed economy for more than thirty years. The octogenarian leader has nonetheless insisted he will vie for President in the 2018 elections even though he can hardly walk or give a twenty minutes speech in parliament.
Historically, Africa has harbored a spate of dictators, including Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir, Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea, among others. Though some of these leaders claim to uphold democracy, their handling of opposition groups, the media, and human rights activists leaves a lot to be desired. The ability of ECOWAS to oust Yahya Jammeh is a big step toward the future of the region.