A man who used to work as an Argos security guard in North London has just been elected as the President of the Republic of the Gambia.
The results of the African country’s general election were announced yesterday (Thursday 1 December), delivering a devastating blow to the long-standing dictatorial President, Yahya Jammeh who had pledged to rule for a billion years.
Barrow snatched defeat by running on behalf of eight different opposition groups which united in a coalition unlike any previously seen. Adama, of the United Democratic Party, received 263,515 votes to 212,099 in favour of Jammeh (pictured below).
Barrow was confident Gambia was ready for new leadership before voting commenced, after Jammeh’s 22 year rule, saying:
He is not going to be re-elected – his era is finished.
Over 880,000 people were registered to vote at one of 1,400 polling stations scattered around the small African country.
The rather unusual voting system requires participants to place a marble in either a green, silver or purple drum depending upon their choice.
— Access Now (@accessnow) December 2, 2016
This story has been hailed as a credit to democracy, with many Gambians warning other dictators they will not survive in the world’s newfound climate of openness, increased free speech and transparency.
If small Gambia can do this, this should send a big message to all dictators that 2016 is your final year. We bringing democracy home
— Sait Matty Jaw (@saitmatty) December 2, 2016
Overwhelming emotions on the diaspora radios atm. Jammeh has brought a lot of pain to Gambians, but we will deal with him later.
— Matarr Sillah (@LeBigSillah) December 2, 2016
This is how our grandparents felt when Gambia gained independence #GambiaDecides
— yahaddy? (@yahaddyy) December 2, 2016
The deafeningly loud roar of the collective voice that heralds the demise of a tyrants reign. Welcome to the revolution #GambiaDecides
— Imran_D (@imboydarboe) December 2, 2016
— Jeffrey Smith (@Smith_JeffreyT) December 2, 2016
With the defeat of the incumbent after 22yrs…Africa is less one dictator. Strong message to Museveni & Mugabe #GambiaDecides
— Stephen Oyagah (@stepoya) December 2, 2016
Gambian-born Barrow, 51, moved to the UK to study for a degree in real estate, funding his education as a security guard, before moving back to Gambia to contest the Presidency.
The shock election result has people in Gambia rejoicing, despite reports of foul play from Jammeh in the journey to the polling stations.
The dictator had blocked international calls and banned the internet in weeks prior, disabling the public’s use of messaging services like Whatsapp and Viber.
— StateOfTheInternet (@akamai_soti) December 2, 2016
He also banned peaceful protest, condemning the freedom of speech it illustrates as ‘loopholes that are used to destabilise African governments.’
Gambia are ready to begin a new political chapter and Barrow – a man from relatively humble beginnings – is ready to step into leadership.