President Yahya Jammeh who shocked Africa in a pleasant way when he accepted defeat and conceded to President-elect, Adama Barrow last week, when the latter won the presidential vote has done an about turn. The strongman leader is now asking for fresh polls.
The President gave as his reason for calling for fresh polls, the fact that there were “abnormalities” in the vote. That claim is so at odds with the President’s views before the elections when he had warned his rivals not to contest the outcome of the Presidential polls because the country’s electoral system is fraud-proof.
He had said then, discouraging demonstrations;
“Our election system is fraud-proof, rig-proof, you cannot rig our elections.
“There is no reason that anybody should demonstrate. [Demonstrations] are the loopholes that are used to destabilize African governments.”
The President-elect who won with over 43% of the vote is now accusing President Jammeh of damaging democracy by refusing to accept the result. President Jammeh’s revision of his concession came after the results of the polls had been revised by the country’s electoral commission on 5 December.
The commission made the move to revise the results because it found out that the ballots for one area were added incorrectly, swelling Adama Barrow’s vote. The commission, however, added even as they revised the vote that their revisions had not “changed the status quo” of the result, it had only narrowed the President-elect’s margin of victory from 9% to 4%.
Rejecting the result and asking for fresh polls, President Jammeh said;
“After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election. I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process.
“I recommend fresh and transparent elections which will be officiated by a God-fearing and independent electoral commission.”
Groups, both home and abroad, have condemned the President’s about-face. It makes the future of Gambia uncertain again. The government of Senegal while condemning the move, called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
The United States and Human Rights Watch also condemned President Jammeh’s rejection of the result. President-elect Barrow’s transition team said the president-elect was safe and Barrow’s spokesman was quick to assure the public that the head of the army, General Ousman Badjie, supported the president-elect, having pledged his allegiance after the initial result.
President Jammeh’s request for fresh polls seems to be a gun powder keg just waiting to explode and one can only hope that he will indeed be convinced to once again accept the election results.