This may be President Yahya Jammeh’s most welcomed unilateral decision: to concede defeat in The Gambia’s December 1 elections. Jammeh, who has always been shunned for his undemocratic practices has been receiving praises around the world for allowing a transparent election and putting The Gambia first by respecting the will of the people.
Outgoing President Jammeh, who came to power through the power of the barrel of the gun shocked the world by saying he will not contest the results of Thursday’s elections.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari praised Mr. Jammeh for his statesmanship in conceding defeat and the European Union said Mr. Jammeh’s swift acceptance of the result is a further signal of strengthening democracy in The Gambia.
“I also salute the spirit of statesmanship displayed by outgoing President Yahya Jammeh, in conceding defeat.” Muhammadu Buhari.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Anan commended President Jammeh for enabling a peaceful transfer of power.
“I commend the current President Jammeh for conceding defeat and enabling what we all hope will be a peaceful transfer of power,” said Mr. Anan.
Anan said Mr. Jammeh’s move to hand over the reigns of power in a spirit of cooperation and peace will strengthen The Gambia’s democracy and that of the region. Jammeh told President-elect Barrow that without peace and stability, nothing can be achieved in Africa.
President Yahya Jammeh has called the polls transparent and the end of his iron-fist rule as the “the will of Allah” and said to President-elect Barrow: “as a Muslim, I accept it in good faith. The Gambian people have chosen you.”
The U.S. government welcomed President Jammeh’s concession to President-elect Barrow and his respect for the will of the Gambian people. The White House said Jammeh’s willingness to hand over power peacefully will contribute positively to a significant legacy for President Jammeh.
“Allah is telling me that my time is up and I hand over graciously, with gratitude to the Gambian people and gratitude to the almighty Allah to you.” President Yahya Jammeh.
A longtime African ruler has never been defeated in the polls. President Jammeh banned post-electoral protests a day before elections, warning they will be crushed. He had previously called the opposition “dogs sponsored by the West” whom he will not leave the affairs of The Gambia to.
“Oppositions are opportunistic people supported by the West. I will bow to only Allah and my mother. I will never tolerate opposition to destabilize this country,” Jammeh said after opposition protests erupted in Banjul.
But ECOWAS Chair and Liberia’s President Allen Johnson Sirleaf said Mr. Jammeh has set a very high standard for emulation by all incumbent and future leaders in Africa and the world at large.
For the first time, many feel that President Yahya Jammeh has put The Gambia first. Having faced criticism for unilaterally withdrawing The Gambia from the International Criminal Court and the Commonwealth, severing relations with Taiwan, changing the country’s non-leaning foreign policy, and declaring The Gambia as an Islamic Republic, he is surely getting praises accepting the “will of Allah” on whose one bank he had relied on and on whose one vote he has been banking on.
“It hasn’t happened anywhere before,” said electoral chief Alieu Njie. “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.”
In all, The Gambia’s election is the year’s win for democracy after Brexit and Trump’s win in America.