Supporters of president-elect Adama Barrow celebrate Barrow's election victory in Banjul, Gambia, December 2, 2016. 

© 2016 Reuters

(Nairobi) – Gambia’s Independent Election Commission announced early on December 2, 2016, that Adama Barrow, the candidate of a coalition of eight opposition parties, had won Gambia’s presidential election, defeating incumbent Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh had been in power since a 1994 coup and this was the fifth time he had run for re-election. Human Rights Watch in a November 2 report detailed President Jammeh’s crackdown on the political opposition, domination of state media, and the use of state resources for campaigning.

The following statement is from Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch:

“Yesterday, Gambians were able to exercise their right to elect their president. Today, a window of opportunity has opened for Gambians to leave fear behind and put respect for human rights front and center.

“That election day took place without violence or apparent political interference is a victory for democracy in a country that has for so long been denied it. Given the Jammeh government’s past record of intimidating and targeting perceived opponents, the transition period also carries risks. It is essential that during the political transition Gambian security forces continue to show respect for human rights and the rule of law.”