Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the country with an iron hand for 22 years, gave the explanation on Saturday morning in a speech broadcast on the state-owned Gambian Radio and Television Service (GRTS).
In the speech, Mr. Jammeh said he did his best for his country, and decided to give up power because of his commitment to the security and peace of The Gambia.
He said be believed in the importance of dialogue and was particularly pleased that the political impasse that gripped the country since December 2016 did not lead to any loss of life.
The former President did not however indicate what he planned to do going forward and whether he would continue to play any role in the politics of the tiny West African nation.
Read below Mr. Jammeh’s full speech as transcribed by PREMIUM TIMES Editor-in-Chief, Musikilu Mojeed.
My first preoccupation as president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and a patriot is to protect at every instance and in every circumstance the lives of Gambians. And this is a duty I hold sacrosanct.
I have always strived for peace and security of our nation and Africa. During this entire time that Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah 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 and those before us have made as a nation, The Gambia has affirmed its desire to deepen its own future and destiny. This is a cause I have always been ready to defend, and even with my life. All the actions 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 that a single drop of blood be shed. Since the beginning of this political impasse that our dear nation is going through, I promise before Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah and the entire nation that all the issues we currently face would be resolved peacefully.
I am indeed thankful to Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah that up till now, not a single casualty has been registered. I believe in the importance of dialogue and in the capacity of Africans to resolve among themselves all the challenges in the way towards democracy, economic and social development.
It is as a result of this that I have decided to, in good conscience, 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 Gambia. Above all, the independence of the free and proud people of the Gambia, and I will always, together with you, defend this independence that we so dearly fought for and worked for.
Our 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 continue to reign in the Gambia. At a time when we are witnessing trouble and wars in other parts of Africa and the world, the peace and security of the Gambia is our collective heritage which we must jealously guard and defend.
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 interests, and endeavour to work together as one nation to continue to preserve the highly cherished achievement of the country, its sovereignty, peace, stability and integrity as well as the economic achievements realised during these years.
I pray that the Gambia continues to be united and prosperous for the welfare of each and everyone of us and be the pride of all.
I subject myself only to the judgment of Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah whose judgment is above and beyond man, time and history. Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah is the only guarantor of peace and justice.
Finally, I am truly and sincerely proud to have been of service to you and our noble nation. I wish to thank each and everyone of the security forces, members of government, present and past, my party militants, and most importantly, you the Gambian people, and National Assembly members, past and present, for the confidence vested in me and your loyal support.
I pray that Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah continues to light and guide our path and to shine his light and blessing on our great and beautiful country.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank my mother, my wife and children for all their prayers and support throughout the past 22 years.
I thank you all, and may Allah Subhuana Wa Ta Allah continues to bless our motherland.