Gambia’s Electoral Commission chief has declared Adama Barrow, the opposition coalition candidate winner of the country’s December 1 presidential election.
The announcement marks the beginning of the end of over a two-decade rule by Yahya Jammeh who took power in 1994.
“Having received 263,515 votes of the total votes cast in the election, I hereby declare Adama Barrow, duly elected to serve as president of the Republic of the Gambia,” Election Commission head Alieu Momarr Njai told the press.
According to the Electoral Commission, Barrow won 263,515 votes (45.5%) in Thursday’s election, while President Jammeh took 212,099 (36.7%). A third party candidate, Mama Kandeh managed 102,969 (17.8%).
The shock defeat of the Gambia’s long time ruler was not anticipated by many who expected the status quo to prevail.
“It hasn’t happened anywhere before,” said Njai. “It’s really unique that somebody who has been ruling this country for so long has accepted defeat even before it was announced by the returning officer,” the Electoral Commission chief said of the president conceding defeat even before the results were announced.
While noting that there will “be celebrations, there will be disappointment, but we all know we are all Gambia,” Mr Njie also called on Gambians to maintain the peace as the country prepares to change governments.
“The same peace (as seen in the campaign), tolerance and tranquility, we are pleading to everybody to observe and respect because you will see from these results that there will be a change of government and the incumbent whose been here for 22 years is magnanimous to accept even before this declaration is done by me the returning officer, that he had lost the elections.”
Gambian state television reports that president Jammeh will later in the day make a statement to congratulate Adama Barrow.