Top officials of foreign governments and the international community are congratulating Gambians and President-elect Adama Barrow, after a shocking election that has set precedent in the world, especially for African democracy.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was one of the first African leaders to congratulate Barrow and The Gambian people, and hailed President Jammeh for conceding.
‘‘I congratulate President-elect Adama Barrow. And the Gambian people, for peacefully exercising their democratic right to choose their leader,” said Mr. Buhari. “I also salute the spirit of statesmanship displayed by outgoing President Yahya Jammeh, in conceding defeat.”
Senegalese President Macky Sall spoke to President-elect Barrow on the phone, and Ghana’s President John Mahama sent a congratulatory message to Barrow and The Gambian people on Monday.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan who congratulated the president-elect also commended Mr. Jammeh for conceding.
The U.S. government said peaceful transition would be a historic achievement for The Gambia – never before has power changed hands through the ballot box – and contribute positively to a significant legacy for President Jammeh.
“We congratulate President-elect Adama Barrow on his victory, and we commend The Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission for administering a credible election,” the White House said.
Jammeh took the world by surprise after conceding defeat and calling President-Elect Barrow to congratulate him. He has ruled The Gambia with an iron-fist and remains unclear if he would be seeking immunity for the rights abuses under his regime.
British Foreign Secretary Borris Johnson also praised President Yahya Jammeh for his statesmanship in respecting the will of the Gambian people and conceding defeat.
“This presents a new dawn for The Gambia and is a momentous day for democracy in Africa. It is essential that all parties work together and ensure an orderly and peaceful transition,” Johnson said.
The African Union, UN, and ECOWAS said it is the wish of the International Community that President-Elect Barrow engages Gambians to combat poverty by putting in place the needed programs necessary for creating jobs for the teeming youths for a sustainable economic development.
The UN Chief said that the United Nations is ready to support the people and the Government of The Gambia in their efforts to promote human rights, achieve sustainable development and strengthen good governance and the rule of law.
The EU, Gambia’s main development partner that has been denied observer status for December 1 elections declared their support for President-Elect Barrow, his future government and the Gambian people on the path of democratic reforms, which Mr. Barrow has outlined in his election campaign.
Barrow was supported by an overwhelming majority of first-time Gambian voters. Gambia’s deplorable economic situation and poor governance have forced many of its youths to cross the Sahara and the Mediterranean to reach Europe with the hope of living in a democratic society where they can pursue economic opportunities to free their families from poverty.
Barrow, 51, a property developer is expected to lead a transitional administration for three years. The new administration is expected to build strong democratic institutions and to stamp out corruption. Gambians are expected to return to the polls by 2020 to elect a new government.
Canada urged Gambians to work together towards their common good, cautioning that peaceful transitions are critical to democracies in Africa.
The Canadian government said Barrow’s election is an important milestone for The Gambia’s future.
“This is an important milestone in The Gambia’s future, and Canada is encouraged by the fact all candidates have stated that they respect the will of the Gambian people and the result of the vote,” said Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister.