Gambia: Opposition’s Adama Barrow defeats Yahya Jammeh in stunning election upset

Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow. PHOTO/Marco Longari/AFP

Jammeh concedes defeat – to address the nation

Gambia’s opposition candidate Adama Barrow has defeated longtime president Yahya Jammeh in the West African country’s presidential vote, an upset victory that will lead to the country’s first transfer of power in more than 2 decades, the head of the election commission, Alieu Momarr Njai, announced Friday.

Jammeh has conceded defeat to the opposition, bringing an end to his 22 years as head of state. He is expected to address the nation later in the day to congratulate Barrow.

Barrow won with 45 percent of the vote, while Jammeh finished in second with 36 percent, Njai said. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, received 17 percent, he said.
“I hereby declare Adama Barrow duly elected president of the Republic of Gambia for the next 5 years,” Njai said.

Many Gambians stayed up all night listening to the radio and tallying results as they were read out constituency by constituency. News of Barrow’s victory prompted thousands to take to the streets in celebration.
“There will be celebrations, there will be disappointment, but we all know we are all Gambia,” Njai said, calling for peace, tolerance and tranquility to be respected as it was during campaigning.

Gambians voted Thursday by placing marbles into drums marked for each candidate.

Opposition parties united behind Barrow

Eight opposition parties united behind Barrow, a former businessman, and the campaign period featured large opposition rallies and unprecedented expressions of frustration with Jammeh’s rule. Nevertheless, Jammeh had projected confidence, saying his victory was all but assured by God and predicting “the biggest landslide in the history of the country” after he voted on Thursday.

“We are happy to be free,” said Omar Amadou Jallow, an opposition leader for the People’s Progressive Party, which joined the coalition that backed Barrow. “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. Our foundation will be based on national reconciliation.”

Jammeh came to power in a coup in 1994 and then swept elections in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 after a 2002 constitutional amendment removed presidential term limits.

President-elect Barrow, has promised to revive the economy, and to step down after 3 years as a boost to democracy.

Source: Agencies