Dlamini-Zuma urges Gambian president to accept defeat
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.