The Gambia's former President Yahya Jammeh has left the country after he was ousted from power.
Jammeh had refused to step down after he lost an election to President Adama Barrow in December, alleging there were "irregularities" in the electoral process.
His refusal to transfer power to Barrow had thrown the nation into political turmoil. However, he finally bowed to pressure two days after Barrow was sworn in, after the West African military threatened to drive him out of office if he did not concede defeat.
Following talks with the presidents of Guinea and Mauritania, Jammeh, who had once said he would rule The Gambia for a billion years, finally stepped down after being issued the ultimatum.
In an address on state television, he confirmed his intention to stand down after 22 years in power, adding that it was "not necessary that a single drop of blood be shed".
"I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians," he said.
Accompanied by mediator Alpha Conde, the president of Guinea, Jammeh travelled to the airport in the capital Banjul where he was greeted by cheering crowds including soldiers and supporters, many of whom were crying as, holding a Koran, he waved to them from the steps of the plane.
Jammeh is now headed for Guinea into exile as activists demand the dictator is held accountable for his numerous human rights violations including the execution of criminals and political opponents on death row .
According to Sky News an online petition also called for him to be denied asylum and instead arrested.
Barrow was inaugurated on Thursday in neighbouring Senegal, with support from the international community. He told the BBC that he would be returning to his homeland "sooner than later".
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