After 22 years, Yahya Jammeh seemed unassailable. His brutal and reckless rule was finally ended by a small but courageous resistance
On Saturday 13 August 2016, six bodyguards from the protection detail of the Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, squeezed into a rental car and drove to the sprawling coastal town of Serekunda. They stopped in Senegambia, the capital’s famous party street, where music blares from bars and white tourists walk around in flip-flops hand-in-hand with young lovers. The men drank some juice and nibbled at some food as they awaited nightfall.
At 1am, when they considered it was safe to move, they got back in the car and drove towards the headquarters of Jammeh’s ruling party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC). They stopped a little distance from the building and peered through the darkness. The building seemed empty. After circling it twice they parked the car 300 metres away. There was only one guard, in a small shed close to the entrance.