Gambia's President Jammeh gets extra title of 'bridge builder'

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Yahya JammehImage source, AFP
Image caption,
President Jammeh has been criticised for abusing human rights during his 21-year rule

The Gambia's long-serving President Yahya Jammeh has had the title of Babili Mansa added to his name.

The Mandinka-language phrase can be translated as "chief bridge builder" or "conqueror of rivers".

A statement from the presidency said Mr Jammeh should now be known as "His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya AJJ Jammeh Babili Mansa".

He had taken the title once before, in 2014, only to drop it four months later, the Point newspaper reports.

President Jammeh seized power in 1994 as a young army lieutenant and has won four widely criticised multi-party elections since then and faced down several coup attempts.

He told the BBC in 2011 that he would rule for "one billion years... if Allah says so".

The BBC's Mamadou Moussa Ba says that since President Jammeh has been in power, The Gambia has been transformed with the building of numerous infrastructure projects, including bridges.

However, he says there is some frustration in Senegal that The Gambia seems reluctant to build a bridge over the River Gambia to link the southern Casamance region of Senegal to the capital, Dakar, as Senegal has long requested.

Instead, travellers have to queue for many hours for a ferry across the river.

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