Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gambian President-Elect Says Jammeh Should Accept Defeat

The winner of Gambia’s presidential election says efforts by incumbent Yahya Jammeh to toss out the results are illegal.

Adama Barrow told VOA’s French-to-Africa service that Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia for 22 years, does not have the authority to cancel the election.

“He does not have those powers and whatever he is doing is illegal and let him accept defeat,” Barrow said in the interview Wednesday. “He called me to say that we have the best election in the world and he should stick to that.”

Barrow said he met with West African leaders who also met with Jammeh on Tuesday and told them, “I am the president-elect and Yahya Jammeh is the outgoing president. He accepted defeat, congratulated me, and turned around and said he has annulled the election.”

On Tuesday, the security forces took over the offices of Gambia’s electoral commission, the same day members of the ruling party asked the country’s Supreme Court to void the election results.

Barrow told VOA that the head of the Gambian Armed Forces called and congratulated him after the election, but still lacks government protection.

“I am still concerned about my security,” he said. “I am using my local security, the security I was using during the campaign.”

Barrow, running as the main opposition candidate, defeated Jammeh in the December 1 election by a margin of 45 to 36 percent, according to the electoral commission.

In a Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia.

In a Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 file photo, Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia.

Afterward, state media broadcast a phone call in which President Jammeh congratulated Barrow for his “clear victory,” praised the election as “transparent” and said, “Allah is telling me my time is up.”

A week later, Jammeh rejected the results and said he wants to see a new election.

Jammeh, 51, has ruled the tiny West African nation since taking power in a 1994 military coup. He won four subsequent elections that critics said were neither free nor fair, and once said he could rule Gambia for “a billion years.”

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