Gambian president-elect calls for calm, demands predecessor accept election loss

Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow has called on his predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, to accept defeat in the December 1 election. Appealing for calm, he said Jammeh had no constitutional right to reject the results.

Gambia neuer Präsident Adama Barrow (Getty Images/AFP/M. Longari)

“I urge him to change his current position and accept the verdict of the people in good faith for the sake of the Gambia, our homeland,” President-elect Adama Barrow said, calling on his supporters to act with “discipline and maturity.”

The West African nation has been unsettled by the announcement made by President Yahya Jammeh on Friday in which he went back on his previous acceptance of the election results, rejected the outcome of last week’s election and called for fresh elections.

Jammeh complained of “unacceptable abnormalities” in the election process on December 1.

Yahya Jammeh (Getty Images/AFP/I. Sanogo)Jammeh at first conceded defeat

The election saw Jammeh losing to opponent Adama Barrow, ending the president’s 22-year rule and giving the country what many see as a moment of democratic hope.

Following the announcement contesting the election, the military was deployed onto the streets, with Jammeh saying he would deal harshly with any protesters who demonstrated against him.

Jammeh has been accused by human rights groups of detaining, torturing and killing opponents during his rule. He said before the election that he would rule for a “billion years.”

Immediate condemnation

His rejection of the results drew immediate reactions from international governments. The US State Department called Jammeh’s move “an egregious attempt to undermine a credible election and remain illegitimately in power.”

The UN Security Council also demanded on Saturday that Jammeh hand over power to the president-elect. In a unanimous statement, the 15 council members called on Jammeh to “respect the choice of the sovereign people of The Gambia, as he did on December 2 2016, and to transfer, without condition and undue delay, power to the President-elect, Mr Adama Barrow.”

The African Union also called Jammeh’s statement “null and void” and called on him to ensure a smooth transition of power.

Senegal, which entirely surrounds tiny Gambia on its land borders, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, with Foreign Minister Ndiaye warning Jammeh not to harm Senegal’s interests or its citizens in Gambia.

Official election results gave Barrow 45.5 percent of the vote against Jammeh’s 36.7 percent. Barrow is set to take over in late January following a transition period.

Watch video04:22

Gambia’s new leader plans rights abuse probe

tj,jbh/sms (Reuters, AFP)

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