ADVERTISEMENT

After Brexit and Trump, the next political earthquake is in...The Gambia

After Brexit and Trump, the next political earthquake is in...The Gambia
Copyright 
By Euronews
Share this articleComments
Share this articleClose Button
Copy/paste the article video embed link below:Copy to clipboardCopied

The world has seen another political bombshell – and this time it is in Africa!

ADVERTISEMENT

The world has seen another political bombshell – and this time it is in Africa!

Businessman Adama Barrow has scored a shock election victory in The Gambia, defeating its longtime president who had vowed to stay in power for “a billion years”.

For the last 22 years, Gambians have been ruled with an iron fist by Yahya Jammeh.

But the authoritarian leader has now formally conceded defeat, confirming that he won’t contest the result announced by the Electoral Commission.

Celebrations erupted in the streets of the capital Banjul, a normally sleepy seaside city whose white beaches lined with palm trees are a draw for European tourists.

Gambians shouted: “We are free. We won’t be slaves of anyone”. Some waved the Gambian flag and opposition party signs.

[LIVE] Gambia Elections: Jammeh concedes defeat, opposition leader Barrow declared winner.https://t.co/LgqC5TEKTOpic.twitter.com/tfnPfIdltJ

— africanews (@africanews) 2 décembre 2016

Earlier this week, Jammeh said that his “presidency and power are in the hands of Allah and only Allah can take it from me”.

Thursday’s vote was a rare show of defiance against a leader who human rights groups say crushes dissent by imprisoning and torturing opponents.

“I never in my dreams believed he would concede. It almost feels too good to be true,” said Ramzia Diab, an opposition coalition member who fled to neighbouring Senegal after receiving death threats.

Victory for democracy in #Gambia polls yesterday! Window of opportunity to put human rights center stage during and after transition. pic.twitter.com/gKNBEe8K3E

— Bruno Stagno (@BrunoStagno) 2 décembre 2016

It is unclear whether Jammeh, who seized power in a coup in 1994, will insist on some kind of immunity for alleged abuses under his rule in the tiny West African country – a former British colony which he declared an Islamic Republic last year.

The man who defeated him has pledged to revive the economy, amid poverty and unemployment that push thousands of Gambians to flee to Europe in search of a better life.

Barrow, a real estate developer who once worked as security guard at retailer Argos in London,
has also vowed to end human rights abuses and to step down after three years as a boost to democracy.

Who is Adama Barrow, the man expected to be declared The Gambia's new president? https://t.co/ZGlE87kzZ5#BBCAfricaLive#GambiaDecidespic.twitter.com/CWF2Dt2oLP

— BBC Africa (@BBCAfrica) 2 décembre 2016

Gambians had voted on Thursday amid a total blackout of the internet and all international calls, and with land borders sealed. European Union observers were barred and only a small team of African Union observers came.

But Barrow somehow managed to unite and galvanise Gambia’s opposition for the first time since Jammeh took power in the country of 1.8 million people.

A peaceful change of power in Gambia would be a welcome surprise for African democracy at a time when many of the continent’s leaders have been rigging polls, fiddling with constitutions to extend their terms in office and cracking down on peaceful protest.

with Reuters

Share this articleComments

You might also like

Nausėda on track to win as Lithuanian presidential election goes to runoff

Peter Pellegrini to become next Slovakian president

The threat of Russian interference in Indonesia’s elections is real