Africa’s longest serving leader Theodore Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea says his country deserves plaudits for the peace Gambians are currently enjoying.
Nguema, 75, a year ago (January 2017) accepted to shelter the outgoing Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh in a deal brokered by the West African regional political bloc, ECOWAS.
Speaking to French channels France24 and RFI in an exclusive interview, Nguema said: “First of all, I believe, you should congratulate Equatorial Guinea for the decision to host the former Gambian leader.
Because the outgoing president was ready to fight but as an individual I knew very well, I spoke to him via telephone and asked him to leave power.
“Particularly at a time when it saved a war situation in the country, because the ECOWAS forces were ready to invade the country which situation could have led to spillage of blood even affecting the citizens.
“Because the outgoing president was ready to fight but as an individual I knew very well, I spoke to him via telephone and asked him to leave power.”
Asked whether he will hand Jammeh over to an institution of justice if need be, Nguema said he will consult with his jurists when a request in that direction reached him. He stressed, however, that chasing someone who agreed to leave power will set a bad precedent.
Jammeh had at the time refused to step down with the reason that his electoral defeat to then candidate Adama Barrow in December 2016 polls were defective. He unilaterally annulled the process and ordered a rerun.
The opposition coalition refused to accept Jammeh’s backtracking on defeat putting the country on the verge of a political crisis. ECOWAS led at the time by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf started a mediation process led by Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari and other leaders.
Jammeh declared a state of emergency as his tenure run out, Barrow who was then in Senegal, took his oath of office at the Gambian embassy in Dakar. He had been flown out by ECOWAS for safety reasons.
Jammeh later agreed to quit after Guinean and Mauritanian presidents held last minute talks with him at state house. He left The Gambia and has since been living Equatorial Guinea.