Gambia court orders release of opposition leader, 18 others

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An appeals court in Gambia has ordered the release of a top opposition politician and 18 others who were arrested after they took part in a peaceful protest earlier this year calling for political reforms.

The move comes just days after longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh agreed to step aside after losing a presidential election following 22 years in power.

Human rights groups say Jammeh's regime imprisoned and often killed political opponents.

Appeals court president Justice A.O. Adogoke said Monday that the prisoners would be granted bail but must have someone vouch for them and they must hand over their passports.

The 19 people now facing release stood up in the courtroom and sang the national anthem along with their lawyers and supporters.