The tiny West African state of The Gambia has sent shock waves around the world with a historic presidential election that resulted in the defeat of the region's longest serving president. President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled The Gambia for more than 22 years, has conceded defeat and promised a smooth transfer of power. In a televised national address, Jammeh congratulated president-elect Adama Barrow for his “clear victory” and wished him well. Jammeh, a self-proclaimed devout Muslim, said he will never question Allah's (God) decision. In the past, he had also said that he will rule The Gambia for one billion years “if Allah willed” and that God — not the constitution — sets presidential term limits.
The election results — and consequent concession of Jammeh — came as a pleasant surprise to many Gambians and the rest of the world. Following the announcement of the final results, Gambians both at home and abroad have been reacting to the opposition's victory and sharing Jammeh's concession video, which includes a portion of his phone call to the president-elect:
Muhammad Sanu Jallow sounded emotional in a tweet that echoed the views of many:
I couldn't hold back the tears. I'm almost 30, and I've known only 1 President this whole time. Good time to be alive. #GambiaDecides
— Muhammad Sanu Jallow (@msjallow) December 2, 2016
Ansu, a Gambian social media user, challenged the notion that elections cannot remove dictators from power. He tweeted:
— Ansu (@nfansu) December 2, 2016
Another Twitter user added:
— YesWe Can (@YesWeCan_Gambia) December 2, 2016
Tha Scribbler Bah posted a Gambian voter identity card, describing it as “The weapon that all politicians should be afraid of, it's small but does more harm to a politician than a bullet. Be mindful of it!”.
Beyond celebrations in the streets of Banjul, a social media user tweeted:
— Zuwa Matondo (@ZuwaMatondo) December 2, 2016
President Jammeh lost to Adama Barrow, who contested as an independent candidate backed by a coalition of as many as seven political parties. He is expected to lead a transitional coalition government for a three-year period, within which time frame they will implement a load of reforms, related to the democratisation process. Barrow, a real estate developer, was an unknown figure in Gambian politics until very recently. He won the election with 45.5% of the vote to Jammeh’s 36.7%, while a third candidate, Mamma Kandeh, managed to attract about 17.8% of the vote.