Gambia’s president-elect said on Saturday that the outgoing leader who now rejects his defeat has no constitutional authority to call for another election, and he called on President Yahya Jammeh to help with a smooth transition in the interest of the tiny West African country. Jammeh’s surprise reversal late Friday was certain to spark outrage among the tens of thousands who took to the streets after Adama Barrow was announced the president-elect in the 1 December vote, shouting “Freedom!” The United States and others quickly rejected Jammeh’s new stance, and the African Union on Saturday called for security forces to remain neutral. Soldiers were in the streets of the capital, Banjul, as Gambians closed down shops in fear of unrest. Barrow said the Independent Electoral Commission is the only competent authority to declare a winner. “It was already done so, and I am the president-elect,” Barrow said. “President Jammeh is the outgoing president. He is to hand over executive powers to me when his term is expires in January.”
Jammeh, whose 22-year rule has been marked by repeated accusations of human rights abuses, late Friday announced that he rejects the results of the presidential election, a week after he jovially conceded to Barrow. “Allah is telling me my time is up,” he said then.
Jammeh now says investigations have revealed a number of voting irregularities.
The head of the electoral commission, Alieu Momarr Njai, would not comment to The Associated Press on whether Jammeh had filed a formal challenge to the vote.