By: Demostene Manaera
Adama Barrow, newly elected President of the Gambia
The head of Gambia’s election commission says President Yahya Jammeh will accept defeat more than 22 years after he seized power in a coup. Jammeh’s main opponent in the election, Adama Barrow scored 263,515 votes to defeat the president who scored 212,099 votes. The commission said Barrow received 45 percent of the vote compared to Jammeh’s 36 percent.
The announcement came Friday from Alieu Momarr Njai, who said the longtime leader would give a statement later in the day. The man who led the West African nation of Gambia for the past 22 years is conceded defeat in the country’s recent election.
About 880,000 Gambians were eligible to vote in Thursday’s poll, which took place under a complete communications blackout, including social media platforms.
Mr Barrow, who is leading an opposition coalition of seven parties, has promised to revive the country’s struggling economy, look at imposing a two-term presidential limit and introduce a three-year transitional government.
Born in 1965 in a small village near the eastern market town of Basse, Barrow moved to London in the early 2000s, where he reportedly worked as a security guard at an Argos catalog store while studying.
It added that it hoped that Mr. Jammeh’s acceptance will strengthen democracy in the country. The charismatic leader known for his white robes and sunglasses once declared that he would lead for a billion years if God willed it. “We are able to free the Gambian people from the clutches of dictatorship, and we are now going to make sure Gambia becomes a bastion of peace and coalition”.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby said of the vote: “Never before has power changed hands through the ballot box, so it’s a big deal. Our foundation will be based on national reconciliation”.
All internet and worldwide phone service was cut on election day in a bid by Jammeh to thwart unrest. Human rights groups have described his regime as abusive, with hundreds of political prisoners languishing in jail. Barrow says that he will work to release these political prisoners.