The President of Equatorial Guinea, Friday categorically rejected calls for Gambia’s ex-leader Yahya Jammeh to be extradited to his country to face allegations of egregious human rights violations and state theft.
Emerging from a meeting with his Guinean counterpart Alpha Conde in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia over the issue on Friday, Teodore Obiang Nguema did not mince his words.
The two leaders are among several African heads of state gathered for the 30th AU Summit currently taking place in the Ethiopian capital.
“I believe that the stance of protecting former heads of state is the correct one…I hail Alpha Conde who told me he will not accept any demand for Yahya Jammeh’s extradition. Even I will not accept it,” Obiang emphasized.
The Equatoguinean leader said he and Conde who is the outgoing chair of the African Union are agreed that Jammeh as a former African head of state should be respected and protected.
According to them, this will guarantee that other African leaders willing to give up power will feel secured in the fact that they will not be harassed after their presidencies.
This was Obiang’s second statement about extraditing Jammeh and Conde’s first publicly stated position on the issue since the call gained traction late last year.
The Guinean leader played a leading role in mediating an end to Gambia’s political crisis triggered by Jammeh’s refusal to accept the outcome of the December 1, 2016 presidential election despite first conceding defeat to current President Adama Barrow.
Last week, Obiang noncommittally told RFI that should The Gambia send a request to Equatorial Guinea seeking Jammeh’s extradition, he would call on his lawyers to study it.
Yahya Jammeh, 52, has been living in exile in Obiang’s Equatorial Guinea since he was forced to give up power by a West African regional force after refusing to make way for his successor.
The mercurial former president is reportedly tending to a farm allocated to him by Obiang in his bolthole in Mongomo away from the public glare.
Last year, pictures emerged of him and his host admiring a forest clearing where cabbages were being farmed.
The new government in Banjul has not hidden its desire to extradite Mr Jammeh to face charges of killing and disappearing political opponents including politicians, journalists and civil society activists during his 22 years of political dominance of the smallest country on mainland Africa.
In a press conference recently President Barrow confirmed that he had held face-to-face talks with President Obiang over his Gambian guest but did not divulge the position of his Equatoguinean counterpart on the issue.
The government earlier this week announced the selection procedure to name prospective members of a proposed Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC), to investigate human rights abuses thought to have been committed from 1994 to 2016 when Jammeh was in power.
The TRRC is designed to provide closure for Jammeh’s alleged victims and promote a spirit of national reconciliation among Gambians.