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Gambians celebrate the victory of opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow, Serrekunda, Gambia, Dec. 2, 2016 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

What’s Behind Jammeh’s Perplexing Decision to Accept Gambia’s Election Results?

Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016

In a surprise victory that shocked Gambians and foreigners alike, opposition candidate Adama Barrow defeated Gambia’s long-time dictator, Yahya Jammeh, in the country’s presidential election last Thursday. Initial reporting suggested that Barrow had won by 50,000 votes or more, which would have been a blowout victory in a country with roughly 1.8 million people. But the revised and final tally issued by Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission on Dec. 5 showed a much closer result: 227,708 votes for Barrow, 208,487 votes for Jammeh and 89,768 for third-party candidate Mamma Kandeh.

It will take time before the structure of Barrow’s victory is fully understood, but even with that narrower margin, the electoral upset suggests that either voters or elites—or both—were so sick of Jammeh that he saw the writing on the wall. In other words, Jammeh likely could have won if he wanted to, by manipulating the results. But it seems he calculated that the cost of victory would be too great. ...

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