THE president of Gambia may not be a household name – but he’s revered as one of the most vicious and bizarre dictators in the world.
Brutal despot Yahya Jammeh, 51, has ruled over his country with an iron fist since he swept to power in 1994 following a military coup.
Although his seizure of power was said to be a bloodless affair, his 22-year rule since has been anything but – crushing all critics with oppressive techniques and horrific torture.
From mock executions and migrant massacres, to calls for anti-gay violence and mass student shootings, Jammeh’s human rights record is abysmal.
The self-styled mystic also has a colourful history of outlandish homophobia, including claims homosexuality was “more deadly than all natural disasters put together” and threats to decapitate all gay people.
However, most fascinating are his outrageous claims to have cured asthma and aids – but only on Mondays and Thursdays – peddling false hope among thousands of sufferers.
Jammeh, who claims to have mystic powers, appeared on the nation’s state television service to make the miracle announcement.
On the programme, the tyrant was seen laying his hands on the heads of sick patients at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Banjul.
Following his astonishing appearance, the broadcaster aired footage of formerly ill patients apparently making miraculous recoveries.
Although devout Muslim Jammeh claims he has long had magical powers, coincidentally, he said he was only given the “mandate” to treat people since taking power.
Rumours suggest his “cure” consists of seven herbs that are mentioned in the Koran.
However, the deranged leader has never disclosed the name of the herbs, nor who gifted him the mandate.
In a speech, he said: “I am not doing it for money or popularity.
“For asthma I have to choose between Saturday and Friday.
“I am also not authorised to treat more than 100 people.
“The one on HIV/Aids cannot be mass-produced because I am restricted to 10 patients only on every Thursday and Monday.”
Despite widespread criticism from the scientific community,in December 2011, Jammeh said during an interview that the alleged cure for aids was “going very well”.
Brutality, superstition and mysticism have been commonplace during Jammeh’s rein.
His government were accused of killing 12 students in 2000 during a protest over the death of a student in Gambia.
Reports of plain-clothes men kidnapping his political enemies, before detaining them indefinitely without charge, have gone hand in hand with his rule as well.
Most shocking are his views on homosexuality, which is effectively outlawed and punishable by execution in Gambia.
In February 2014 he described gay people as “vermin” who should be treated worse than mosquitoes.
He has been re-elected four times, with dubious majorities over 70% on each occasion, and is likely to take office again in 2016 with a vast – some claim possibly fraudulent – majority.