Yahya Jammeh is the outgoing president of The Gambia. He is one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa, since he took power through a military coup in 1994.
Jammeh surprisingly lost to Adama Barrow in Thursday’s presidential poll. He however, shocked the world by conceding defeat, barely a month after he vowed to lead the tiny West African nation for a billion years.
Below are ten things to know about Jammeh.
The outgoing Gambian leader threatened to slit the throats of gay people found in the nation, in 2008. He ordered them to leave the country, saying that Gambia is a country of believers, with zero tolerance on sinful and immoral practices like homosexuality.
Jammeh claimed to cure HIV/AIDS, but only on Mondays and Thursdays. He however, said that he can only cure ten patients only on the two days. He administered a bitter yellow drink and two bananas on the patients. He also said that he can cure asthma, but only between Friday and Saturday.
In 2009, Jammeh invited witch doctors to the nation, following the death of his aunt. He believed that witchcraft was involved in her death. The native doctors accompanied security forces seizing people accused of being witch doctors. The campaign led to the arrest of about 1,000 suspects, who were locked up in secret detention centres and forced to drink dangerous concoction that led to bouts of diarrhea and vomiting.
Jammeh is considered to be a close friend to retired Senegalese football legend, El Hadji Diouf. He gave Diouf $25,000 in cash after the retired footballer visited his private residence in April, this year.
Jammeh invokes the name of Allah or God at the start of almost all his conversations or speeches. In November, during a campaign rally, he said that Allah had given him leadership and he would rule for a billion years. In the past, he urged Senegal to vote for a God-fearing president.
In August 2013, Jammeh ordered security forces to arrest any youth found playing football during the rainy season. He accused such youths of aspiring to become footballers, while ignoring agriculture in their home provinces. Police officers arrested about 18 youths in the Central River Region province, for defying the directive.
In December 2015, Jammeh declared the tiny West African nation, an Islamic republic. He said that the move would help distance The Gambia from its colonial past, under Britain. In 2013, he pulled the nation out of the 54-member Commonwealth, saying that it was a neo-colonial organization.
Jammeh preferred to be addressed by his subjects using his full name, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Abdul-Azziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh.
In June, this year vowed to wipe out the Mandinka tribe from the nation for belittling native Gambians tribes like, Fullas and Wollofs. Jammeh also promised that the Mandinkas, both within and outside the country, would not live to witness the recently concluded presidential poll. “I will kill you like ants and no Western country can do darn thing about it. Who are you to disrespect other tribes?” Jammeh once said at a rally.
In November 2015, Jammeh urged Senegalese to vote out President Macky Sall, accusing him of being a Western puppet and leading a non-sovereign nation. He added that Senegal needed a God-fearing leader. Jammeh also openly said he found it difficult to work with the nation’s past leaders, Abdou Diouf and Abdoulaye Wade.