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Gambian leader Jammeh expected to concede defeat in presidential vote

By Ed Adamczyk
Gambian leader Jammeh expected to concede defeat in presidential vote
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (C), seen at a White House State Dinner on behalf of the US-Africa Leaders Summit on August 5, 2014, is prepared to concede Thursday's presidential election, an electoral commission chief said. Jammeh has ruled Gambia since 1994. File photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

BANJUL, Gambia, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Yahya Jammeh, Gambia's authoritarian leader, will concede defeat in the presidential election, the electoral commission chief said.

Jammeh, 51, has led the small West African country since a 1994 coup put him in power, but preliminary returns indicate Thursday's presidential election will be won by real estate agent Adama Barrow, who unified eight opposition parties in defeating Jammeh. Barrow said he is expecting a congratulatory telephone call from Jammeh.

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Alieu Momar Njie, head of Gambia's electoral commission, said Jammeh acknowledged the election result, adding it was unprecedented for a Gambian head of state to concede before final election results are announced.

"It's really unique that someone who has been ruling this country for so long has accepted defeat," Njie said.

International telephone lines from Gambia were interrupted and an Internet blackout was enforced during Thursday's vote. Election results read on state television said that, with 39 of 53 constituencies counted, Barrow held 45 percent of the vote, with Jammeh at 40 percent and Mammah Kandeh with 15 percent.

In four terms as president, Jammeh was seen as a ruthless and unpredictable autocrat, accused by human rights groups of repression and intolerance toward journalists, gay people and political opposition. Some citizens have drowned while attempting to escape to Europe, the BBC reported, adding the elections results are seen as a surprise to Gambia's 900,000 registered voters.

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