Gambia's defeated leader Yahya Jammeh announced early Saturday he has decided to relinquish power, after hours of last-ditch talks with regional leaders and the threat by a regional military force to make him leave. "I believe it is not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed," Jammeh said in a brief statement on state television. He promised that "all the issues we currently face will be resolved peacefully." He did not give details on any deal that was struck, and it was not immediately clear when Adama Barrow, who beat Jammeh in last month's election, would return from neighboring Senegal to take power, the AP reports.
But the speech signaled an end to the political crisis that has seen this tiny West African nation caught between two men claiming to be in charge. Late Friday, Barrow declared that "the rule of fear" in Gambia had ended. Jammeh, who first seized power in a 1994 coup, had earlier agreed to step down but demanded amnesty for any crimes he may have committed while in power and wanted to stay in Gambia, in his home village of Kanilai, Marcel Alain de Souza, chairman of the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, said Friday. Those demands were not acceptable to ECOWAS, he added. In his address early Saturday, Jammeh expressed "infinite gratitude to all Gambians" and said not a single person had been killed during the crisis. (Read more Gambia stories.)