- Title: U.S. congratulates Gambia for peaceful election
- Date: 2nd December 2016
- Summary: WASHINGTON, DC, UNITED STATES (DECEMBER 02, 2016) (STATE TV - Broadcasters: Digital:) U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY WALKING TO PODIUM JOURNALIST ASKING QUESTION (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN JOHN KIRBY SAYING: "We congratulate the Gambian people for their commitment to a peaceful democratic process and the rule of law. We can confirm that the Gambian independent electoral commission declared on Gambian television that Adama Barrow of the united Democratic Party opposition party has won the presidential election as an independent running on behalf of a coalition of seven opposition parties. According to the chairman of the IEC president Jammeh has conceded the election and spoken with the president elect. This would be a historic achievement for the Gambia, never before has power changed hands through the ballot box. So it's a big deal. We encourage all Gambians to respect the election results and we urge the government of the Gambia to respect the rights of citizens to freely assemble as they respond to the results of the election. Again we applaud the Gambian population for participating in this election with a high voter turnout and generally peaceful conditions albeit of course with a high security posture." JOURNALIST ASKING QUESTION
- Embargoed: 17th December 2016 20:02
- Keywords: Gambia elections Yahya Jammeh Adama Barrow
- Location: WASHINGTON, D.C, UNITED STATES
- City: WASHINGTON, D.C, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVA0015B711DZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby on Friday (November 2) congratulated the Gambian people on their peaceful presidential election, touting the "historic achievement."
"We congratulate the Gambian people for their commitment to a peaceful democratic process and the rule of law. We can confirm that the Gambian independent electoral commission declared on Gambian television that Adama Barrow of the united Democratic Party opposition party has won the presidential election," Kirby said.
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who vowed to lead the tiny West African nation for "a billion years", suffered a shock election defeat to businessman Adama Barrow after ruling for 22 years since he seized power in a coup.
"This would be a historic achievement for the Gambia, never before has power changed hands through the ballot box. So it's a big deal," Kirby added.
Voting against Jammeh on Thursday (December 1) was a rare show of defiance against a leader who has effectively ruled by decree and who human rights groups say routinely crushes dissent by imprisoning and torturing opponents.
Barrow, a businessman, promised to revive Gambia's economy, end widespread human rights abuses and to step down after three years as a boost to democracy.
Gambians voted amid a total blackout of the internet and all international calls, and with land borders sealed, in a poll posing the first serious challenge to Jammeh since he took office in 1994.
President of Gambia's Independent Electoral Commission, Alieu Momarr Njai, declared Barrow president-elect on state television.
Earlier this week Jammeh said that his "presidency and power are in the hands of Allah and only Allah can take it from me", and on one occasion even said he would remain in office for "a billion years".
A peaceful change of power in Gambia would be a welcome surprise for African democracy at a time when many of the continent's leaders have been rigging polls, fiddling with constitutions to extend their terms in office and cracking down on peaceful protest.
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