Gambia leader's rejection of defeat 'null and void,' AU says

2016-12-10 21:45
Yahya Jammeh. (AFP)

Yahya Jammeh. (AFP)

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Dakar - The sudden rejection by Gambia's longtime leader of his election defeat is "null and void," the African Union said Saturday, as the tiny West African nation was urged to remain calm.

President Yahya Jammeh late on Friday announced that he no longer accepts defeat in the presidential election, a week after he jovially conceded to his rival Adama Barrow.

Jammeh, whose 22-year rule has been marked by accusations of human rights abuses, said investigations since the December 1 vote revealed a number of voting irregularities. In a speech on state television, Jammeh said he rejects the election results "in totality."

The dramatic about-face was certain to spark outrage among the opposition and the tens of thousands who took to the streets after Barrow was announced the president-elect, shouting "Freedom" and tearing down posters of Jammeh as security forces stood by.

The AU statement stressed the urgent need for a peaceful transfer of power and called on security forces to remain neutral.

Mai Ahmad Fatty of the opposition Gambia Moral Congress, one of eight parties that backed Barrow, said the coalition has the will of the people on its side.

Full support 

"Remain calm. We are working round the clock to restore sanity. We have the full support of our people. The world is with us," Fatty said. "Gambia cannot afford instability."

AU commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Jammeh's statement was "null and void", pointing out that he had already "publicly and gracefully recognised that the victory of President-elect Adama Barrow is the true expression of the will of the Gambian people".

Just one week ago, Jammeh was shown on state television calling Barrow to wish him the best, saying he has no ill will.

The United States government swiftly condemned Jammeh's rejection of the election results, calling it an attempt to remain in power illegitimately.

The government in neighbouring Senegal, which envelopes the small country of 1.9 million except for its coastline, strongly condemned Jammeh's move and urged him to respect the election results.

Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to address the situation.

Jammeh, who seized power in a bloodless 1994 military coup, has long been accused of overseeing a government that imprisons, tortures and sometimes kill its opponents, according to human rights groups.

Read more on:    au  |  yahya jammeh  |  adama barrow  |  nkosazana dlamini zuma  |  gambia  |  west africa  |  gambia 2016 elections

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