Dlamini-Zuma urges Gam­bian pres­i­dent to ac­cept de­feat

CityPress - - News - S’THEMBILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

African Union chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has urged Gam­bian Pres­i­dent Yahya Jam­meh to re­spect the will of his peo­ple by ac­cept­ing de­feat at the polls.

This fol­lows an about-turn from Jam­meh, who said on Fri­day that “un­ac­cept­able er­rors” were found by election of­fi­cials, after which he with­drew his ac­cep­tance of the re­sults that saw op­po­si­tion can­di­date Adama Bar­row bring to an end Jam­meh’s 22year rule.

Bar­row re­ceived 263 515 votes, while Jam­meh won 212 099 at the polls on De­cem­ber 1. Bar­row (51) rep­re­sented a coali­tion of seven op­po­si­tion par­ties that chal­lenged Jam­meh.

After the election, in­ter­na­tional rights or­gan­i­sa­tion Amnesty In­ter­na­tional said the new ad­min­is­tra­tion would have an obli­ga­tion to “trans­form the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Gam­bia, free po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, re­move re­pres­sive laws and en­trench newly found free­doms”.

Jam­meh ini­tially con­ceded de­feat, go­ing as far as mak­ing a pub­lic tele­phone call to Bar­row, a move that shocked many across the con­ti­nent, and also em­bold­ened cit­i­zens in other African coun­tries with long-serv­ing lead­ers to call on them to re­sign or ac­cept de­feat at the polls – in­clud­ing Zim­babwe’s Robert Mu­gabe. Jam­meh’s shock ac­cep­tance was also fol­lowed by a sur­prise an­nounce­ment from An­golan Pres­i­dent José Ed­uardo dos San­tos – who has been in power for 37 years – that he will step down be­fore the coun­try’s elec­tions next year. Dlamini-Zuma said Jam­meh’s re­jec­tion of the re­sults was “null and void” as he had al­ready con­ceded de­feat. She said Bar­row’s tri­umph “is the true ex­pres­sion of the will of the peo­ple”.

Bar­row said Jam­meh had “no con­sti­tu­tional author­ity to re­ject the re­sults” and de­mand an­other election.

He urged his ri­val to al­low “a smooth trans­fer of ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers in the supreme in­ter­est of the coun­try”.

Jam­meh’s about-turn has also earned him the ire of neigh­bour­ing Sene­gal, as well as the US.

In her state­ment, Dlamini-Zuma urged Jam­meh to fa­cil­i­tate a peace­ful and or­derly tran­si­tion and trans­fer of power to the new pres­i­dent. She also called on the Gam­bian de­fence and se­cu­rity forces to re­main strictly neu­tral.

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