By Alhagie Jobe
Gambia’s longtime ruler of more than 22 years announced late Friday that he no longer accepts defeat in the country’s presidential election, reversing course a week after he already conceded to his rival Adama Barrow.
In a speech on state television GRTS TV, Jammeh said that investigations since the Dec. 1 vote have revealed a number of voting irregularities that he called unacceptable.
He said some figures in the results had been transposed and that voter turnout had been suppressed.
“After i accepted the results without any query, the IEC called all parties at the headquarters and told them that there was error. That is not acceptable,” he said.
He added: “Our investigations reveal that in some cases voters were told that the opposition has already won and that there was no need for them to vote and, out of anger, some of them returned home. I hereby reject the results in totality,” he said in his address that aired late Friday.
“Let me repeat: I will not accept the results based on what has happened.”
Only one week ago, a jovial Jammeh was filmed on state television calling opposition candidate Adama Barrow to wish him the best.
“You are the elected president of The Gambia, and I wish you all the best,” Jammeh told Barrow at the time. “I have no ill will.”
The dramatic about-face was certain to spark outrage among the opposition and the tens of thousands of Gambians living in exile abroad. Already in the week since Jammeh had been defeated, several dozen political prisoners had been released on bail.
Under Jammeh’s rule, the country surrounded almost entirely by Senegal has become notorious for its abysmal human rights record as well as the president’s erratic behavior.
The Jammeh regime has long been accused of imprisoning, torturing and killing its opponents, according to human rights groups.
He also has increasingly isolated Gambia, whose economy has long been dependent on tourism. In 2013 he exited the Commonwealth, a group made up mostly of former British colonies, branding it a “neo-colonial institution.” And in October, Jammeh said Gambia would leave the International Criminal Court, which he dismissed as the ‘International Caucasian Court.'”