The president of The Gambia since 22 July 1994, when he overthrew founding civilian president Sir Dawda Jawara in a military coup. Jammeh became one of the world's youngest rulers, at the age of 29. A coup against Jawara in 1981 had been put down by troops from neighbouring Senegal coming to his assistance, but this time Senegal did not intervene. Jammeh claimed the government had become lazy and corrupt. Until this time The Gambia had been held up as one of the very few true democracies in Africa, so this was rather a blot on the scutcheon.

Jammeh converted himself to civilian ruler and founded the "Second Republic" in 1996, banning politicians from the first one from taking part. His party is called the APRC, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction.

He has just been re-elected president in reasonably fair and free elections (one person was killed; some complaints about voter registration), receiving 53% of the vote, against 33% for his main opponent Oussainou Darboe. An unusual (these days) ballot system was used in which voters dropped a marble into a drum. Bicycles were forbidden to approach polling stations, in case their bells interfered with this casting of votes.

Yahya Jammeh was born in 1965 in the village of Kamilai and joined the army in 1984. He was married to Tuti Faal from 1994 to 1998, and to Zenab Suna since then, born in Morocco where her father was Guinean ambassador. They have a one-year-old daughter Mariam. Yahya was a keen wrestler in his early days, and enjoys travelling, birdwatching, and world affairs, I'm sorry I'm just telling you what it says on the BBC profile. Driving. He likes driving too.

< Dawda Jawara - The Gambia

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