Former President Jammeh agrees to step down

Pretoria - Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down and leave the country, Gambian President Adama Barrow said on Friday night.

"I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today,” President Barrow wrote in a post on Twitter, ending with the hashtag #NewGambia.

It is reported that former President Jammeh left Gambia for Equatorial Guinea late on Saturday.

The former President, who ruled Gambia for 22 years, boarded a small, unmarked plane at an airport in the capital Banjul, alongside Guinea's President Alpha Conde after two days of negotiations over a departure deal.

He had refused to step down after the December 1 elections in which opposition leader President Barrow was declared the winner. This triggered weeks of tension as West African leaders threatened to use military force to oust him if he failed to step down.

Soldiers from the ECOWAS stopped advancing in Gambia on Thursday.

"Orders were given to the troops to stop their advance and they have stopped, because the ECOWAS privileges the initiatives of dialogue and diplomacy," President of the ECOWAS Commission Marcel Alain Da Souza said.

The Senegalese army, backed by other West African soldiers, entered Gambia on Thursday afternoon in a military operation aimed at forcing former President Jammeh to cede power to President Barrow who was sworn in the same day in Dakar as the new Gambian President. - SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua