Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, who is also a presidential candidate for the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC), smiles during a rally in Banjul, Gambia, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon
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Gambia's former President Yahya Jammeh wielded a potent mix of brute force and mysticism to keep citizens in a permanent state of fear, a legacy that lingers.Now, weeks after the paranoid autocrat was chased from power in the tiny nation almost entirely surrounded by Senegal, voices are being raised to demand justice, but the hurdles are many.They include pervasive superstition – including beliefs that Jammeh had supernatural powers – that for many citizens has blurred the lines between truth and fiction. Wild stories abounded during Jammeh's tenure.Jammeh faced down several coup attempts after he seized power in 1994, which fueled his paranoia and, by extension, that of his people. As a result, in the later years of his rule, Jammeh came to rely ever more on a close circle of fanatically violent supporters.In January, the young son of newly elected President Adama Barrow died of dog bites, shortly after Barrow fled the country for his own safety while Jammeh reversed his acceptance of defeat at the polls.Barrow has promised to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but also said Gambia would rejoin the International Criminal Court after Jammeh pulled the country out last year.
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