Opposition Coalition supporters
Opposition Coalition supporters

(JollofNews) – The United States and the United Kingdom have congratulated the people of Gambia on the peaceful conduct of presidential polls in the country. The United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) have also sent congratulations to Gambians and the president-elect Adama Barrow.

The December 1 polls was won by the opposition coalition candidate, businessman Adama Barrow, whose victory ended over two decades of rule by President Yahya Jammeh. Barrow represented seven opposition parties.

The 51-year-old has been congratulated by Jammeh. The outgoing president also promised to do all it takes to ensure a smooth transition in January. Jammeh said he will be leaving the state house and return to his village to begin farming.

‘‘I wish you all the best, the country will be in your hands in January and you are assured of my guidance on your transition and when selecting a government but you have to work with me as I plan to go to Kanilai and hand over the State House to you,’‘ he told Barrow in a phone conversation.

The UK statement

The British Foreign Ministry in a statement released a day after Jammeh conceded defeat in the elections also lauded the incumbent for accepting and respecting the will of the people. The statement added that the elections ‘‘presents a new dawn for The Gambia and is a momentous day for democracy in Africa.’‘

‘‘I congratulate Adama Barrow on his victory in the Gambian presidential election on 1 December and President Yahya Jammeh for his statesmanship in respecting the will of the Gambian people and conceding defeat,’‘ the statement added.

Adama Barrow of the opposition coalition
Adama Barrow of the opposition coalition

According to the Electoral Commission, Barrow won 263,515 votes (45.5%) in Thursday’s election, while President Jammeh took 212,099 (36.7%). A third party candidate, Mama Kandeh managed 102,969 (17.8%).

The shock defeat of the Gambia’s long time ruler was not anticipated by many who expected the status quo to prevail.

“It hasn’t happened anywhere before,” said Njai. “It’s really unique that somebody who has been ruling this country for so long has accepted defeat even before it was announced by the returning officer,” the Electoral Commission chief said of the president conceding defeat even before the results were announced.

The UN message

A statement attributable to the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon took the same line, it however congratulated the electoral body and further pledged continued support of the UN to Gambia.

He commends the Independent Electoral Commission for ensuring that the necessary conditions were in place for the organization of a successful election. He also congratulates President-elect Adama Barrow on his election and commends President Yahya Jammeh for his message congratulating Mr. Barrow.

‘‘The Secretary-General reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to continue to support the people and the Government of The Gambia in their efforts to promote human rights, achieve sustainable development and strengthen good governance and the rule of law in the country,” the statement added.

The EU statement

Despite their observers being turned down by the Gambian authorities in the run-up to the polls, the European Union (EU) also congratulated Gambians for strenghtening democracy by the way and manner they conducted themselves during the vote.

‘‘In presidential elections on 1 December, Gambian voters have expressed their will to see a change of leadership. The European Union wishes to commend the commitment of the Gambian population to democratic principles.

‘‘President Jammeh’s swift acceptance of the result is a further signal of strengthening democracy in The Gambia.

‘‘The European Union stands ready to fully support the President elect, Mr. Adama Barrow, his future government and the Gambian people on the path of democratic reforms, which Mr. Barrow has outlined in his election campaign,’‘ the statement added.

The statement was issued jointly by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica.

Canada and La Francophonie statement

“Canada commends the Gambian people for peacefully exercising their democratic rights and congratulates Adama Barrow for his victory.

“Peace and lawful transitions of power are critical to democracies in Africa and around the world.

“This is an important milestone in The Gambia’s future, and Canada is encouraged by the fact all candidates have stated that they respect the will of the Gambian people and the result of the vote.

“As we move ahead, Canada encourages all Gambians to work together to build a better future for all.”

The above statement was issued by Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie.