10, December 2016
Gambia’s long-time President Yahya Jammeh has rejected the results of the country’s recent presidential election a week after conceding defeat to his rival. “I hereby reject the results in totality,” Jammeh said in a televised address late Friday, insisting that investigations since the December 1 poll have revealed a number of voting irregularities, which he described as unacceptable. “Let me repeat: I will not accept the results based on what has happened,” added Jammeh, who has ruled the West African country for more than 22 years.
During the address, the Gambian ruler further underlined that some figures in the election results had been transposed and that voter turnout had been suppressed. “Our investigations reveal that in some cases voters were told that the opposition has already won and that there was no need for them to vote and, out of anger, some of them returned home,” Jammeh said.
The remarks came just a week after he was shown on state television calling opposition candidate Adama Barrow and cheerfully wishing him the best. “You are the elected president of The Gambia, and I wish you all the best,” Jammeh said to Barrow at the time, adding, “I have no ill will.” The striking turnaround is expected to incite indignation among the opposition as well as a large number of Gambians living in exile abroad. This is while in the week since Jammeh conceded defeat, dozens of political prisoners had already been set free on bail.
It remains to be seen whether the small African country of only 1.9 million people would tolerate Jammeh’s renewed rule. Following news reports about his defeat last week, Gambians reportedly took to the streets – singing, dancing and shouting “Freedom!” Western governments have been especially critical of Jammeh’s rule in Gambia pointing to his directives to quit the commonwealth of former British colonies and the Western-led International Criminal Court (ICC). In quitting the Commonwealth in 2013, Jammeh described the organization as a “neo-colonial institution.” He also announced in October that Gambia would leave the ICC, which he dismissed as the “International Caucasian Court.”