Jammeh spent hours with Guinea and Mauritania’s presidents on Friday in Banjul, where an agreement was reached that he would hand over power to Adama Barrow, the declared winner of elections last month.
“I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians,” Jammeh said in a statement broadcast on state television.
The leader declared his decision to leave office — after weeks of stalling through threats and legal action — was his alone, despite immense pressure from the international community.
There was however no confirmation of where he would spend his life after his presidency.
“My decision today was not dictated by anything else than the supreme interest of you the Gambian people and our dear country,” Jammeh said in his speech, thanking Gambians for their support.
“At a time when we are witnessing trouble and fears 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,” he added.
“I am proud and honoured to have served The Gambia. I submit myself only to the judgement of Allah.
“I am proud and honoured to have been of service to you. I believe in the capacity of Africans to decide for themselves all issues on democracy,social and economic development,” Jammeh stated.
Mauritania president Abdul Aziz talks confirmed that a deal has been struck with Jammeh’s to allow him step down peacefully.
“We’ve reached an agreement that saves the Gambia, guarantees peace and assures security, dignity honour for the outgoing president,” Aziz said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo received briefing on the situation in Banjul from government officials on Friday soon after his return from Ibadan where he had gone on an official trip.
He is acting for President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on a 10-day medical vacation in the United Kingdom .
The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the VP , Laolu Akande, said on his Twitter handle yesterday that : “VP Osinbajo on return to Abuja received update and briefings on the situation in Gambia and briefings from a number of cabinet ministers.”
Barrow has been in neighbouring Senegal for days. He was sworn-in in the Gambian embassy there on Thursday.
His legitimacy as president has been recognised internationally, after he won last month’s elections.
Jammeh’s deadline to cede power to Barrow lapsed several times as West African troops moved into the nation in a bid to force his removal.
Hours before, Gambia’s army chief abandoned the embattled longtime leader, saying his forces would not fight against a military operation to remove him, as regional leaders led a last ditch effort to convince him to flee into exile.
The defection of General Ousman Badjie, who had previously stood by Jammeh, removed what was perhaps the former coup leader’s last remaining pillar of support, potentially raising the likelihood of a peaceful solution to the political impasse.
While Barrow’s election victory last month and inauguration on Thursday were celebrated by many across the tiny nation of less than 2 million people, support for Jammeh remained strong among some Gambians, who opposed the military intervention.
Hours before Jammeh agreed to quit yesterday Gambians had taken to social media, particularly the Twitter which had recorded more than 200,000 tweets in praise of Nigeria, Senegal and ECOWAS.
The new President, Mr Adama Barrow, took to twitter thanking the people of the Gambia and the world.