Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, who once vowed to rule the tiny West African nation for “a billion years”, said he had accepted his shock election defeat on Friday, 22 years after seizing power in a coup. Voting on Thursday against Jammeh was a rare show of defiance against a leader who has ruled by decree and who rights groups say crushes dissent by imprisoning and torturing opponents. In an address broadcast by Gambian state-owned radio on Thursday evening, Jammeh said he would not contest the poll results showing opposition candidate Adama Barrow had won, which had been announced earlier in the day. “If (Barrow) wants to work with us also, I have no problem with that. I will help him work towards the transition,” Jammeh said, before later saying that he planned to move to his farm after leaving office following a handover in January.
Celebrations erupted in the streets of Banjul, a normally sleepy seaside capital whose white beaches lined with palm trees are a draw for European tourists, when the results were announced.
Gambians shouted: “We are free. We won’t be slaves of anyone.” Some waved the Gambian flag and opposition party signs.
Official results from the electoral commission head gave Barrow, a real estate developer who once worked as a security guard at retailer Argos in London, 45.5 percent of the vote against Jammeh’s 36.7 percent.