Olatunde Michael-Daniel

Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh has rejected the result of the presidential election earlier this month, a week after admitting defeat.

Speaking on state TV, Mr Jammeh cited “abnormalities” in the vote and called for fresh elections.

Mr Jammeh, who came to power in a coup in 1994, suffered a surprise defeat to Adama Barrow, who won more than 45% of the vote.

Mr Jammeh said that he now rejected the results “in totality”.

Mr Barrow, a property developer, is due to take office in late January. Neither he nor his party have so far commented on Mr Jammeh’s statement.

The Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa, with a population of fewer than two million.

Reputation for ruthlessness

“After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election,” Mr Jammeh said.

“I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process.

“I recommend fresh and transparent elections which will be officiated by a God-fearing and independent electoral commission.”

According to the electoral commission, in the election on 1 December:

  • Mr Barrow won 263,515 votes (45.5%)
  • President Jammeh took 212,099 (36.7%)
  • A third-party candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 102,969 (17.8%)

In his 22 years in power, Mr Jammeh acquired a reputation as a ruthless leader.

Ahead of the election, Human Rights Watch accused him of using violence to silence critics. The group said two activists had died in custody and dozens of people had been jailed and denied medical or legal help.