President Yahya Jammeh addressing Gambians

(JollofNews) – President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia Saturday told his people that he is relinquishing power in their supreme interest  and for peace and security of the country.

In a late night televised address, Mr Jammeh said he has always put above and everything else the independence of the free and proud people of the Gambia and will always work together with Gambians to defend that independence they have so dearly fought for and won.

The decision was made following tense talks that lasted for hours with President Alpha Conde of Guinea and President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

Troops from regional groups Ecowas are already in the Gambia and have threatened to flush Mr Jammeh out militarily if he refuses to step aside for Mr Barrow, the declared winner of last month’s election.

Mr Barrow, 51,  was sworn-in on Thursday as the Gambia’s third president at a ceremony held at the Gambian embassy in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, which was attended by western and African dignitaries.

And as the deadline given to him step down nears with his military commanders refusing to engage the regional soldiers, Mr Jammeh said  he took the decision to step down because it was not necessary for not even a single drop of blood be shed  as a result of the election dispute.

“I believe in the importance of dialogue and the capacity of Africans to resolve amongst themselves all the challenges on the way towards democracy, economic and social development. It is as a result of this that I have decided today in good  conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians, women, children, youth and men and friends of the Gambia who have supported me for 22 years in the building of a modern Gambian,” he said.

“My decision today was not dictated by anything else but by the supreme interest of you the Gambian people and our dear country taking into consideration my prayer and desire that peace and security continues to rain in the Gambia. At a time when we are witnessing chaos and trouble in other parts of African and the world, the peace and security of the Gambia is our collective heritage, which we must jealously guard and defend.”

Mr Jammeh added that during his 22 year reign, his first preoccupation, as president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces and a patriot has always been to preserve and uphold at every instance and in every circumstance the lives and dignity of Gambians .

He added: “I have always pride for peace and security of our nation and Africa. During this entire time that Allah ( SWT) in his infinite wisdom has permitted me to exercise power and throughout the time that the sovereign people of the Gambia have put their confidence in me, my primary preoccupation has been to uphold the dignity of our people and the sovereignty of this great nation.

“As a result of all the numerous sacrifices that we have made as a nation, the Gambia has affirmed its desire to determine its own future and destiny. This is a cause that I have always been ready to defend and even with my life. All the actions that we have taken towards building this nation up to this point, have distinguished us among the community of nations and given us a pride of place in history.

“All this while, as a Muslim and a patriot, I believe it is not necessary for not even a single drop of blood to be shed. Since the beginning of this political impasse, that our nation have been through, I promise before Allah (SWT) and the entire nation that all the issues we currently face  will be resolved peacefully. I am indeed thankful to Allah (SWT) that untill now not even a single casualty has been registered.

“I am proud and honoured to have served our country the Gambia while thanking all of you men, women and children, members of the armed and security services, humble citizens and all those who have supported me or were against me during this period. I implore them all to put the supreme interest of our nation, the Gambia above all partisan interest and endeavour working together as one nation to continue to preserve the highly cherished achievements of the country, its sovereignty, peace, stability and integrity as well as the economic achievements realised during these years.”