Gambian President Digs In, Appeals Election Loss

Published: 14 December 2016

By Matthew Beinart

The party of long-reigning Gambian President Yahya Jammeh officially reversed course Tuesday on a pledge by the strongman to accept the results of an election that ejected him from power in early December.

Jammeh and his party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, filed a petition with the Supreme Court demanding the results of the Dec. 1 election be nullified and a new vote held with an updated voter list.

The election was won by opposition leader Adama Barrow, ending 22 years of rule by Jammeh marred by authoritarianism and corruption.

Jammeh initially accepted the results and conceded to Barrow in a televised phone call.

The petition by Jammeh’s party calls into question different results announced on the election day and on Dec. 5, and also questions the apparent failure by about 360,000 registered voters to cast ballots.

The Gambia’s electoral commission said the second count was simply an updated tally, and that the results were accurate, News24 reported.

Jammeh’s reversal came despite an unsuccessful attempt by West African leaders who traveled to the country to convince him to accept the results and facilitate a peaceful transition.

Regional leaders have raised the possibility of a military intervention to deal with the political crisis.

President-elect Barrow told local media he has an open channel of communication with Jammeh and has asked him to accept the results of the election.

“The outgoing president has no constitutional authority to reject the result of election and order for fresh election to be held,” Barrow told local media.

“Let him know that leaders come and go; sooner or later, I must also go.“

Jammeh has 60 days following the initial election result to step down from office.