International News

The Gambia’s President Jammeh concedes defeat in election

The Gambia’s incumbent president, Yahya Jammeh, who once claimed a “billion-year” mandate to rule, has conceded defeat after a shock election loss to a real-estate developer who once worked as a security guard in London – according to the Guardian.

Jammeh had kept the tiny west African country under an iron grip for more than two decades, and there were fears that the eccentric 51-year-old would use violence or fraud to maintain power.

Instead he became a rare dictator to accept defeat in a democratic election, agreeing to hand power to challenger Adama Barrow, a softly spoken businessman who previously had little public profile.

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Barrow told the Guardian that Jammeh had called him to concede defeat with the words: “Congratulations. I’m the outgoing president; you’re the incoming president.”

The father of five used his lack of political baggage to woo voters desperate for change, claiming 45.5% of the vote to Jammeh’s 36.7%. If Jammeh sticks to his word, Barrow will become only the third Gambian head of state since the country’s independence in 1965.

In a televised statement, Jammeh said the vote had been “the most transparent election in the whole world,” adding that he would not contest the result.

“I take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Adama for his victory. It’s a clear victory. I wish him all the best and I wish all Gambians the best. As a true Muslim who believes in the almighty Allah I will never question Allah’s decision. You Gambians have decided,” he said.

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The prerecorded message then cut to a shot of Jammeh phoning the president-elect.

“Hello, are you hearing me?” Jammeh asked Barrow, grinning widely on his mobile. “I wish you all the best. The country will be in your hands in January. You are assured of my guidance. You have to work with me. You are the elected president of The Gambia. I have no ill will and I wish you all the best.”

Barrow said he was confident Jammeh would stand down. “Power belongs to the people. It’s the people who have spoken. He cannot hang on,” he said. “We won the election clearly so there’s nothing he can do about it.”

Barrow said his priority was to name a cabinet. “I’m very, very happy and excited. I’m happy that we won this election.”