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Gambia President Yahya Jammeh halts death row executions

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh had announced plans to kill all prisoners on death row at the end of August.

Gambia president yahya jammeh oath 2012 1 19Enlarge
Gambian incumbent Yahya Jammeh (L) speaks with his wife, Zeineb Souma Jammeh, on Nov. 24, 2011 as he leaves a polling station in the capital Banjul after voting in the presidential elections. Gambians voted on Nov. 24 in polls, which some observers said were skewed in favor of Jammeh, who heaped scorn on criticism that his regime is repressive. (Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images)

Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh has put a stop to plans to execute all of the country's death row prisoners, after his initial announcement at the end of August caused international furor. 

President Jammeh had planned to kill the 47 death row prisoners by mid-September, but the international community condemned the decision and called for sanctions against the West African nation, Reuters reported

The African Union as well as various human rights groups protested the executions, and Benin's foreign minister met with Jammeh in person to ask him to not go through with the executions, according to BBC News.

More from GlobalPost: Gambia executes 9 after vowing to kill all death row prisoners

"President of the Republic of the Gambia Yahya Jammeh has decided to put a moratorium on executions as a result of numerous appeals to that effect," the Gambian government statement said. "What happens next will be dictated by either (a) declining violent crime rate, in which case the moratorium will be indefinite, or an increase in (the) violent crime rate, in which case the moratorium will be lifted automatically." 

Nine inmates, most of them political prisoners, were executed before the moratorium was issued. 

At the time of Jammeh's announcement on August 19,  it had been over 25 years since Gambia carried out an execution, Voice of America reported

Yahya Jammeh seized control of Gambia in a coup in 1994, and has received numerous criticism for his shady human rights record, Agence France Presse reported.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120915/gambia-president-yahya-jemmeh-halts-death-row-executions