2016-12-06 16:25:00

Gambia looks forward after historic presidential election

Catholic Priest, Father Peter Lopez of the Gambia Pastoral Institute (GPI) has told Antony Bushfield of UK’s Premier News that the defeat of President Yahya Jammeh in Gambia was totally unexpected. 

“We thought even if Gambians voted this man out, he would have found a way of rigging the elections and coming out as the winner…It is a shock result,” said Fr. Lopez who expressed a sigh of relief among Gambia’s minority Christians. 

In December 2015, Jammeh declared the Muslim-majority country to be an Islamic republic. It was expected that after elections Jammeh would move the country firmly in that direction. Fr. Lopez also spoke of pre-election anxiety among Christians about Jammeh’s other threat to close all Christian schools after elecions. 

The relief in Gambia is not only felt among Christians. Jammeh ruled the country with an iron fist.

President-elect Adama Barrow told Associated Press that he would release all political prisoners. "Political prisoners will be released, all of them. If it's politics, you are released," he told the Associated Press. 

Amnesty International was quick to urge the President-elect not to forget other prisoners of conscience in jail simply for expressing an opinion or for participating in peaceful protests.

The UK’s Guardian reported that Gambian Catholic priest, Fr. Bruno Toupan, a close family friend of Barrow was invited to bless the family of the new President. Barrow, a devout Muslim said his decision to call a Catholic to bless his family was proof that he would be a president for all Gambians.

(Email: engafrica@vatiradio.va)

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