Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Defiant Gambia Leader Says Not a ‘Coward’ and Won’t Leave

Gambia’s longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh has vowed to defend himself, saying he is not a coward and only Allah can deny him victory, in his latest defiant comments as international pressure mounts for him to step down.

Jammeh initially conceded defeat following the Dec. 1 election, only to make a dramatic about-face a week later. He maintains that voting irregularities nullify the results, and insists he will not hand over to President-elect Adama Barrow in January.

In comments broadcast on state television late Tuesday, Jammeh said he was prepared to die for what he believes in, and said he was prepared to defend himself and Gambia.

“I will not be intimidated by any power in this world. I want to make sure that justice is done. I am a man of peace, but I cannot also be a coward,” he told a meeting of the African Bar Association that was aired on television.

“Nobody can deprive me of that victory except the almighty Allah,” he vowed.

Jammeh also criticized the regional bloc known as ECOWAS, accusing its mediators — fellow leaders of countries including Nigeria — of violating the sovereignty of Gambia.

“This country has been independent since 1965. And they want me to leave my country? Who are they to tell me to leave my country?”

Jammeh seized power in a coup 22 years ago, and human rights groups say his regime has violently suppressed the opposition in the tiny West African country.

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