Even before the cheers to celebrate the end of Yahya Jammeh’s brutal 22-year rule of Gambia died down, there was fury that he was being allowed to flee into luxurious exile.
Trader Aji Jagne, 32, had chanted “we are free” until her voice was hoarse on Sunday but by the end of the day, less than 24 hours after Jammeh flew out of the country and into exile, her toothy grin had disappeared.
“Why should he escape…? If he ever sets foot in Gambia again, we shall take him to the ICC,” she said, referring to the International Criminal Court, from which Jammeh had planned to withdraw before his December 1 electoral defeat.
Celebrations erupted in the streets after West African regional forces entered the capital city, Banjul, and took control of the presidential palace, the State House.
Jammeh, who had refused to accept his poll defeat to opposition challenger and now president Adama Barrow, flew out of Banjul late on Saturday en route to Equatorial Guinea.
A West African regional force had been launched to remove him but paused to allow for negotiations mediated by Guinean President Alpha Conde and President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.
Diplomats and government sources say Jammeh used that time to try to negotiate immunity from prosecution for alleged abuses and, according to an advisor to Barrow, also loaded up a cargo plane with luxury goods.
Jammeh denied allegations of torture and killing opponents while in power. But his repressive rule and a flagging economy saw thousands flee across the Sahara and Mediterranean to Europe each year.