Displayed with permission from allAfrica.com
The television announcement last Friday by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh that he no longer conceded defeat by President-Elect Adama Barrow in last week’s presidential elections has shocked the entire world, and most especially the Gambian people.
Earlier last week, following the announcement of the presidential election results, when the Elections Commission declared that Adama Barrow had defeated The Gambia’s incumbent leader, President Jammeh immediately conceded defeat and congratulated Mr. Barrow on his election as The Gambia’s new President. But to the utter surprise of the entire international community and most especially the Gambian people, Jammeh last Friday reversed himself and said he no longer accepted the results and called for new presidential elections.
That announcement was greeted with overwhelming international condemnation. Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia and President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) declared that Jammeh’s reversal of his concession was « unacceptable and threatened peace not only in The Gambia but the entire West African Sub-region. »
An Executive Mansion statement said President Sirleaf insisted that the will of the Gambian people, freely expressed in the exercise of their franchise, must be respected by all without precondition. This includes President Jammeh and officials of his government.
The statement added that the ECOWAS President supported the joint statement issued by the African Union, ECOWAS and the United Nations, noting that it leaves no doubt that the reversal in the position of President Jammeh is totally unacceptable.
The African Union has described as « null and avoid » Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s rejection of the results of last week’s election.
« The Chairperson of the Commission strongly urges President Yahya Jammeh to facilitate a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power, » she said.
The US and neighboring Senegal also criticized the statement.
The Foreign Ministry of neighboring Senegal, which surrounds The Gambia almost entirely, on Friday criticized Jammeh’s change of heart, saying it « rejected and condemned » his remarks and was « surprised » by them.
« Senegal demands that the outgoing president unconditionally respect the democratic choice freely expressed by the Gambian people, » the Senegalese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
It urged the authorities to « organize a peaceful transmission of power and ensure the security and physical integrity of the newly elected president, » referring to Barrow.
Senegal has meanwhile called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss and take action on President Jammeh’s reversal of his position on the elections.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner described Jammeh’s action as a « reprehensible and an unacceptable breach of faith with the people of the Gambia and an egregious attempt to undermine a credible election process and remain in power illegitimately. »
We at the Daily Observer join the Gambian people and the international community in urging President Yahya Jammeh to rescind his latest statement and return to his honorable stance following last week’s election, to concede defeat by accepting the results. Even if the most recent results showed a miscounting of some of the votes, they still put President-Elect Barrow in the lead by four percent.
For the sake of peace and an orderly transition of power, we plead with President Jammeh to uphold the election results.
We also appeal to President-Elect Barrow to let bygones be bygones and refrain from taking any action whatsoever against President Jammeh. The new President must do this in the interest of the country’s peace and stability.
President Barrow’s focus from hence forth should be upon reuniting and reconciling the country, and getting on with the urgent task of national development in all its aspects–educational, health, agricultural and expanding the country’s tourist potential.