Displayed with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Banjul (dpa) – A prominent opposition politician and 18 other activists were released on bail in Gambia on Monday, three days after long-term ruler Yahya Jammeh lost the country’s presidential elections.

An appeals court in the capital, Banjul, granted bail to the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), Ousainou Darboe, and 18 other UDP members, lawyer Sheriff Jobe told dpa.

The defendants had been charged with holding an unauthorized demonstration and sentenced to three years in prison in July 2015.

They had called for the release of UDP member Solo Sandeng, who was arrested in April for demanding Jammeh’s resignation and electoral reforms. Sandeng died in custody.

Rights group Amnesty international called the release of Darboe and the 18 others “a big moment” but cautioned that many more political prisoners remained incarcerated in the poverty-stricken West African nation.

The court appearance was scheduled shortly after Adama Barrow, a UDP member, won the December 1 presidential election.

Barrow, who had the support of seven opposition parties, pledged to free all political prisoners if elected.

His predecessor, Jammeh, a former army colonel, ruled the Islamic Republic for 22 years with an iron fist and was widely accused of human rights abuses.