In what was a surprise move to most Gambians on the national television, the country’s strongman Yahya Jammeh has called to offer the small nation’s president-elect his readiness to be available should his successor needs his advice.
With smiles and often jokes and laughter in between sentences, a style uncharacteristic of Gambia’s tough-talking military ruler, country’s outgoing president advised the president elect Adama Barrow to ensure that he served the entire country equally.
Jammeh, who was on phone to Gambia’s 51-year old new president, said he has accepted the verdict of Gambian people and will soon vacate state house in January to go and settle in his home village in Kaninlai where he will continue “farming”.
“Congratulations Adama Barrow and your entire team… I am calling you to wish you all the best… You are assured of my guidance during the transition,” he said in a state TV night broadcast as Barrow thanked him for his past leadership successes.
Jammeh argued that Gambia’s elections is one of the “most transparent” in the world adding he would never cheat because such will be against the will of Allah and the Gambian people.
“I want all Gambians to reconcile. You have made your decision and Allah has decided that I am no longer going to be your president… I will hand over to the president elect in January… If he wants to work with us, I have no problem with that,” Jammeh said in a nationwide address prior to the telephone call.
Jammeh’s concession came as a deeply compromising move by a man who frequently calls his opponents “vermins” and “agents of the West”, threatening to “kill them like dogs” if they attempt to destabilize his country.
But Barrow told journalists late Friday that he was “not surprised that President Jammeh conceded defeat because power belongs to the people”.
The leader of Gambia’s main opposition party, Ousainou Darboe whom Barrow replaced as the leader of the United Democratic Party is currently serving a three-year jail term after leading a peaceful protest in April demanding the release of their party member who died in state custody.
April alone two members of UDP, the party Barrow served as a leader before becoming the coalition flag bearer has lost two of its members in state custody who died in mysterious circumstances that Jammeh refused to investigate after calls by rights groups and the United Nations.
And though Jammeh is also accused of other human rights violations including disappearances of journalists, human rights activists and political opponents, Barrow remains silent on whether they will try him or not should he be found culpable.
“We contested the election on principles and we don’t have personal issues with anybody. When we get there (Presidency), we will follow the process as sanctioned by the constitution,” he vaguely told journalists.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu about a week ago, Barrow revealed that Darboe and all Gambia’s political prisoners will be released immediately they take over power and they will also return the country to International Criminal Court and British Commonwealth.
The estate businessman was declared winner on Friday afternoon by the country’s Independent Electoral Commission beating Jammeh 263, 515 to 212, 099, as their third rival Mamma Kandeh trails them with 102, 099.