By Alhagie Jobe
Gambia’s incumbent President Yahya Jammeh who has been defeated in Thursday Presidential election late Friday phoned the President-elect Adama Barrow to concede defeat and congratulated him and his team on the victory.
Mr Jammeh’s comments came almost ten hours after votes where counted and results announced.
The results of the elections as officially announced by the electoral commission gave Mr Adama Barrow – 263,515 votes; Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh – 212,099 votes and Mama Kandeh – 102, 969.
During the phoned call conversation, Mr Jammeh first of all, thanked Almighty Allah for everything. He also thanked the Gambian people for the support over the past 22 years of his rule.
“I came on a Friday, 22nd July 1994 and today Friday 2nd December 2016, you Gambians have decided that I should take the back seat. You have voted for somebody to lead your country. This is our country and I wish you all the best” Jammeh said.
Mr Jammeh assured Mr Barrow of his total support and guidance at all times. He also assured him of a smooth transition process saying he has started working on it and by January 2017, Presiden-elect Barrow will take over the State House.
According to Jammeh, the outcome of the election is clear and transparent.
“The election results are the will of the people and as a Muslim who believe in God, I accept it in good faith. The Gambia is our country and we should all work together for its development” he said.
In a surprising announcement, Mr Jammeh said he is heading to his home village of Kanilaio immediately after the transition.
Mr Jammeh 51, seized power as a young army officer in a 1994 coup has rule the small West African nation for the past 22 years during which he has maintained his control over Gambia in four subsequent elections despite growing international concern over his government’s deteriorating human rights record.
His defeat comes as a huge surprise to him and many of his surrogates. Despite a surge of support for an opposition broadly united behind one candidate, most people expected the status quo to prevail.
The unseating of an incumbent president is not the usual way politics goes in this part of the world – but it’s becoming popular in West Africa at least. The news of the opposition victory came as the internet came back online.