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Jammeh Loses in Gambia Election Upset

  • VOA News

Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh shows his inked finger before voting in Banjul, Gambia, Dec. 1, 2016.

Gambia's electoral commission says opposition candidate Adama Barrow has won an upset victory in the country's presidential poll, beating longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh.

The Independent Electoral Commission announced Friday that Barrow won 263,000 votes, or 45 percent of the total, while Jammeh took 212,000 votes, about 36 percent. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 17 percent.

Commission chairman Alieu Momarr Njai told reporters that Jammeh will accept defeat, adding that it's "very unique" that the president would do that after so many years in power.

There was no immediate statement from Jammeh.

Gambians celebrate the victory of opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow against longtime President Yahya Jammeh in the streets of Serrekunda, Gambia, Dec. 2, 2016, an upset victory.
Gambians celebrate the victory of opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow against longtime President Yahya Jammeh in the streets of Serrekunda, Gambia, Dec. 2, 2016, an upset victory.

Dancing in the streets

Reporter Alpha Jallow tells VOA that crowds are dancing in the streets of the Gambian capital, Banjul, in celebration of Barrow's victory.

Barrow, 51, represents a coalition of seven opposition parties that challenged Jammeh in Thursday's election.

Jammeh, also 51, has ruled the tiny West African nation since taking power in a military coup in 1994. He won four subsequent elections that critics said were neither free nor fair.

Alleged rights abuses

Rights groups have often accused him of having political opponents and journalists either arrested or killed. Amnesty International said in a statement Friday that the new administration will have an obligation to "transform the human rights situation in Gambia, freeing political prisoners, removing repressive laws and entrenching newly-found freedoms."

Gambia is a former British colony that occupies a narrow sliver of land surrounded by French-speaking Senegal. Some 880,000 Gambians were eligible to vote in Thursday's poll, which took place under a complete communications blackout, including social media platforms.

The president, who had predicted he would win the vote, has said that no protests would be allowed after the election.

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