GAMBIA: Dictator Who Vowed To “Slit The Throats” Of All Homosexuals Is Defeated In Democratic Election

The BBC reports:

Yahya Jammeh, The Gambia’s authoritarian president of 22 years, has suffered a surprise defeat in the country’s presidential elections. He will be replaced by property developer Adama Barrow, who won more than 45% of the vote. After his win, Mr Barrow hailed a “new Gambia”. Mr Jammeh, who came to power in a coup in 1994, has not yet spoken publicly.

The West African state has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965. Electoral commission chief Alieu Momar Njie appealed for calm as the country entered uncharted waters.

“I am very, very, very happy. I’m excited that we won this election and from now hope starts,” Mr Barrow told the BBC’s Umaru Fofana, adding that he was disappointed not to have won by a larger margin.

Mr Barrow told the BBC that President Jammeh had accepted his defeat and congratulated him. President Jammeh also instructed his successor to arrange a time to meet and organise the transition process. Mr Jammeh, a devout Muslim, had once said he would rule for “one billion years” if “Allah willed it”.

Human rights groups have accused Mr Jammeh, who has in the past claimed he can cure AIDS and infertility, of repression and abuses of the media, the opposition and gay people. In 2014, he called homosexuals “vermin” and said the government would deal with them as it would malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

In November 2014, Jammeh made homosexuality punishable by life in prison. The following month the US dropped Gambia from an African free trade agreement in part over Jammeh’s anti-LGBT crackdown. Several months later Jammeh issued a public promise to “slit the throats” of all homosexuals, prompting a denouncement from UN national security advisor Susan Rice. It’s unknown if life for Gambia’s LGBT community will improve under the new president.