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UN calls on Gambian president to step down at end of term


12-15-2016 05:53 BJT

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UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned the military takeover of Gambia's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) premises, reiterating his call for "a peaceful, timely, and orderly transfer of power" in the West African country.

The secretary-general, in a statement issued here by his spokesman, said that he "has learned with dismay" the military takeover which took place on Tuesday morning, and condemned "this outrageous act of disrespect of the will of the Gambian people and defiance towards the international community at a time when a high-level Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) delegation was in the country to broker a peaceful transfer of power."

"This action violates the independent status of the IEC under the Gambian constitution, and could compromise the sensitive electoral material under the Commission's custody," the statement said.

"The secretary-general reiterates his call for a peaceful, timely, and orderly transfer of power, in full respect of the will of the Gambian people as expressed in the presidential election," the statement said. "He calls on the Gambian military and security forces to immediately vacate the IEC premises and to refrain from any further acts with the intent to jeopardise efforts towards the peaceful transfer of power."

"Those found responsible for acts of violence and human rights violations must be held accountable," the statement added.

The military takeover came after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, who had previously conceded his defeat in the Dec. 1 presidential election, announced on state television Friday night he has decided not to accept the results.

Jammeh, who has been the Gambian president for 22 years, insisted that there were discrepancies in the vote count, in which opposition coalition candidate Adama Barrow was declared winner.

Alieu Momarr Njai, head of Gambia's electoral commission, announced on Dec. 2 that Barrow won the election with 45.5 percent of the votes. Njai noted last week that it was a rare moment in Gambian politics, in which Jammeh accepted defeat.

The West African state has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1965.

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