Africa

Defiant Gambia leader says not a 'coward' and won't leave

FILE- In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. President Yahya Jammeh, who at first surprised Gambians by conceding defeat after 22 years in power, a week later announced that he had changed his mind. He alleges voting irregularities that make the Dec. 1 ballot invalid. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)

FILE- In this Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia. President Yahya Jammeh, who at first surprised Gambians by conceding defeat after 22 years in power, a week later announced that he had changed his mind. He alleges voting irregularities that make the Dec. 1 ballot invalid. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay, File)  (The Associated Press)

Gambia's longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh says he's not a coward and won't hand over power to the president-elect.

The latest defiant comments from Jammeh came late Tuesday as international pressure mounts for him to concede defeat in the Dec. 1 vote.

Jammeh initially said he would step aside and wished his opponent Adama Barrow the best, only to make a dramatic reversal a week later.

In comments broadcast on state television, Jammeh said: "I am a man of peace, but I cannot also be a coward." He also said he's prepared to defend himself and his country.

Jammeh seized power in a coup 22 years ago, and human rights groups say his regime has violently suppressed the opposition in the tiny West African country.