He’s finally gone: Gambia’s former president flees as tour operators cancel all flights to the trouble country

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He refused to step down, saying he would rule for a billion years. But, after neighbouring states threatened to step in to forcibly remove him, the former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has finally left.

Mr Jammeh has gone into exile after losing an election in December, with his successor Adama Barrow, who once worked as a security guard in Argos, taking up office. Mr Barrow was sworn in as Gambia’s new president on Thursday, even though his predecessor said he would not go. However, armed forces from Nigeria and Senegal swooped in to make sure that Mr Barrow would be able to take office following a democratic vote.

However, Mr Jammeh has finally been spotted heading off in a plane, while a separate jet carried his family members and aides. His departure prompted celebrations on the streets, but there are still fears that political unrest, or even a civil war, could break out.

Stranded

 

British tour operators have now stopped all flights into or out of Gambia. Thomas Cook said it had got 2,500 tourists out of the country, including all of those who were travelling on package holidays. However, it did admit that there could still be many people who had travelled on a flight only basis remaining in the country. The operator said everyone who wanted to leave had done so and those left behind were either Gambian nationals, of dual nationality, or were travellers embarking on long stay trips. The last flight out of Gambia left at 7pm on Friday, so anyone who was not on it could not be stranded.

The tour operator contacted holidaymakers as a matter of urgency and told them to pack up their suitcases and get on buses, which were provided to take them to the airport on Tuesday. However, tourism businesses in the country say they have now been left fearing for their livelihoods.

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