By Lamin Cham
The president of Equatorial Guinea has said that prosecuting former Gambian president Jammeh might be a bad political idea.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the former Gambian president’s exile in his country, President Theodore Obiang told RFI and France 24 in an interview yesterday that he offered Jammeh sanctuary based on purely humanitarian grounds.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of the interview:
RFI/France 24: Mr President, in the name of hospitality, you welcomed just a year ago here in Malabo the former Gambian president, Yahya Jammeh, but in his country he is accused of many crimes, very serious crimes. So, in the name of African solidarity, would you be ready, if the time came, to put him at the disposal of an African court, as has already been done in the case of the former Chadian president Hissène Habré?
President Obiang: I think that firstly the thing you have to do is congratulate the decision of Equatorial Guinea to take in the former president of The Gambia because it was a moment to save the country from war …
because the Ecowas force was going to occupy [the country]. There perhaps would have been a bloodbath for the citizens of Gambia because the outgoing president was ready to fight. I [acted] because he was a person I knew. I spoke with him by phone. I told him he had to give up power in order to avoid the bloodbath.
RFI: So that’s the past, that was a year ago, but for the future?
Obiang: Yes, all right, but if there is a request, I will analyse it with my lawyers. But I think what we have to do …. he gave up power, it’s over. But to prosecute someone who took the decision to give up power might be a bad political idea.