The Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow has called on President Yahya Jammeh to step aside, saying that even colonial power Britain was able to hand over power peacefully.
In a Christmas message, Barrow said Gambians should be free of the threat of violence as “we enter a New Year of hope” after Jammeh threatened to cling to power unless the Supreme Court orders him to step down.
Barrow also announced the creation of a group of experts to lay the foundations for his new administration.
Jammeh, who has been in power for 22 years, stunned observers by initially accepting his defeat in the December 1 vote by opposition candidate Barrow, but then flip-flopped a week later, rejecting the results and filing a court challenge.
“I should assume office when the term of office of the incumbent expires... I do not want to preside over a country that is not at peace with itself,” Barrow said in a statement.
“I am calling on all peace loving Gambians to work for a peaceful transfer of executive power, for the first time in our history since independence.”
Jammeh has stoked international concerns about the future of the small West African country, with the UN joining African leaders in calling for him to step down.
“If the colonialists could peacefully hand over executive power... (we) should be able to show a better example to our children,” Barrow said.
“To ensure that the country realises its full potential when I assume office, I have already commissioned the establishment of a think tank” to prepare a transition plan.
Under Jammeh’s long rule, The Gambia has remained crushingly poor but enjoyed relative stability -- though rights groups and media watchdogs accuse him of cultivating a climate of fear and clamping down on dissent.