The man internationally recognized as the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, ruled the country for over two decades
He came in as a 29-year-old Lieutenant and exits as a 51-year-old democrat who was known more for his autocratic ways and widely believed to be a person who abused rights of the media and of opponents.
Here are ten top intriguing facts about Yahya Jammeh
1. He was born on May 25, 1965 in his village Kanilai
2. Then as a 29-year-old Lieutenant, Jammeh deposed President Dawda Kariaba Jawara on July 22, 1994.
3. He said the soldiers that overthrew Jawara were not in for long and that they wanted a just system.
4. Jammeh, the second president since independence in 1965, once vowed to rule for a billion years.
5. The first president took office in 1970 till Jammeh overthrew his government.
6. There was a failed coup in December 2014 when Jammeh was out of the country. He continues to accuse foreign powers of being behind attempts to remove him illegally.
7. Since coming to power, Jammeh was elected in 1996 and reelected continuously in 2001, 2006 and 2011.
8. Jammeh is known for his charm and generosity but his human rights record is poor with arrests of opponents and journalists and torturing detainees as part of the blot.
9. He is on record to have claimed he can cure HIV, he also led a campaign against witchcraft in the country. He banned female genital mutilation in 2015 and again banned child marriage last year.
10. His last presidential act was the declaration of a state of emergency on January 19, two days to the end of his tenure.
Other facts worthy of note
- He is a deeply religious person who bears the titles of ‘Alhaji’ – someone who has undertaken the pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. He also has as part of his titles, ‘Sheikh’ – a learned Islamic scholar.
- He is always seen with the tasbih – the Islamic rosary and a copy of the Quran plus a wooden staff. Need i add that he always wears a cap, on his usually elaborate white outfit?
- Jammeh labeled the country an Islamic Republic in December 2015 as part of efforts to distance Gambia from its colonial past.
- He also led The Gambia out of the Commonwealth and had officially applied to dump the International Criminal Court (ICC).