NewsWest AfricaGambia's president swept from power after two decades in charge


Posted on Friday, 02 December 2016 21:28

Gambia's president swept from power after two decades in charge

By Mark Anderson

A Gambian officer speaks to President Yahya Jammeh during his final rally in Banjul. Photo: Jerome Delay/AP/SIPAGambia's autocratic leader Yahya Jammeh, who once declared that he would rule over the country for "a billion years", has been swept from power in a stunning defeat at the polls.


The country's electoral commission declared Adama Barrow, a former British security guard and a property developer, the winner of a presidential election held on 1 December with 45.5% of the vote.

Jammeh, who has yet to make any public comments since the result was announced, has ruled the country since 1996 when he seized power in a military coup. The incumbent received 36.7% of the votes cast, according to Alieu Momarr Njai, the head of Gambia's electoral commission.

"Having received 263, 515 votes out of the total votes cast in the election, I hereby declare Adama Barrow newly elected to serve as president of the republic of the Gambia," Alieu Momarr Njai told Reuters, adding that he thought Jammeh would concede.

Human rights groups have sharply criticised Jammeh's rule over the country. “For many years the people of Gambia have suffered numerous abuses, including horrific human rights violations and oppression," said Sabrina Mahtani, Amnesty International’s researcher for West and Central Africa, who is currently in Gambia.

"The last two weeks have shown how much Gambians of all parties value free speech," she said. "There is a huge obligation now for the future administration to transform the human rights situation in Gambia, freeing political prisoners, removing repressive laws and entrenching newly found freedoms."

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