On Dec 2, 2016 The Washington Blade reported: A member of the Gambian opposition on Thursday defeated his country’s vehemently anti-gay president who seized power more than two decades ago.
Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission said Adama Barrow, an independent candidate who represented the United Democratic Party, a coalition of eight opposition parties, defeated Yahya Jammeh by a 45-36 percent margin. The Associated Press reported that Jammeh acknowledged the surprise election results in a telephone call he made to Barrow with cameras from state television rolling.
“Allah is telling me my time is up and I hand over graciously with gratitude toward the Gambian people and gratitude toward you,” said Jammeh, according to the Associated Press.
State Dept. spokesperson: Election ‘a big deal’
Jammeh came to power in the small West African country during a 1994 coup.
A report that Human Rights Watch released in September 2015 notes anti-LGBT persecution is among the human rights abuses for which Jammeh’s government was responsible.
The report notes Gambian police and officials with the country’s National Intelligence Agency “promptly rounded up” dozens of people “on suspicion of their sexual orientation” after Jammeh signed a law in 2014 that sought to impose a life sentence upon anyone found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality.” A man who said he was among 18 people arrested at a 2012 birthday party for “promoting homosexuality” told the Washington Blade that he fled Gambia a few weeks after Jammeh signed the statute.
Jammeh in 2015 said he would slit the throats of gay men in his country.
Jammeh, who owns a $3.5 million mansion in Potomac, Md., in 2014 described gay men as “vermin” during a speech he gave that commemorated his country’s independence from U.K. He told the U.N. General Assembly in 2013 that homosexuality is among the three “biggest threats to human existence.”
Read more at: Anti-gay Gambian president loses re-election bid