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Defeated Gambian president rejects election result, calls for new vote

"It is time he go and we thank him for everything he has done for the country," Gambian President-elect Adama Barrow countered Friday.

By Doug G. Ware
Defeated Gambian president rejects election result, calls for new vote
Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh on Friday said he rejects the result of the country's presidential election earlier this month, in which he lost to challenger Adama Barrow after 22 years in power. File Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI | License Photo

BANJUL, Gambia, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- Ousted Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is making it clear he isn't going to relinquish 22 years of power without a fight.

The recently-defeated premier said on state television Friday that he rejects the result of the presidential election -- citing "unacceptable abnormalities" -- and demanded a fresh vote.

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"After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election," he said. "I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process.

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"I recommend fresh and transparent elections which will be officiated by a god-fearing and independent electoral commission."

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Jammeh lost to challenger Adama Barrow on Dec. 1 by winning less than 40 percent of the vote. Barrow was supported by more than 45 percent of voters, many of whom are itching for new leadership after more than two decades of Jammeh's rule.

"I have been declared the winner and the incumbent President Jammeh has congratulated me, which I think is a move in the right direction," Barrow told Gambia's Daily Observer Friday.

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"We have to be patient because nothing will come easy and nothing is automatic," he added. "We are ready and we will work round the clock to make a difference but we are calling on every Gambians to put hands on deck. It is through hard work that we can achieve a better Gambia."

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Jammeh, 51, took power in Gambia during a 1994 military coup and has presided over a government that has regularly drawn international criticism over a spate of issues -- including human rights abuses and systemic oppression.

The president has also been condemned for his advocacy for violence against the Gambian gay community. He said last year, "If you do it (homosexuality) I will slit your throat. If you are a man and want to marry another man in this country and we catch you, no one will ever set eyes on you again."

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Barrow, 51, is scheduled to assume office next month.

Jammeh initially accepted the election defeat and was expected to concede. Friday's remarks, though, indicate he won't easily release his grip on the presidency.

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"We should all put personal issues aside and Gambia is the most important thing, which I think President Jammeh has demonstrated," Barrwo said. "He has been here for 22 years working for Gambia and we have to commend him for that, but it is time he go and we thank him for everything he has done for the country."

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