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Lessons from Gambia

By The Standard | Updated Mon, December 5th 2016 at 00:00 GMT +3

In a hotly contested election on December 2, 2016, long-serving Gambian President Yahya Jammeh lost to a newcomer, Adama Barrow. What came as a sweet surprise to Gambians and the entire African continent was how game Jammeh was; conceding defeat. That was least expected after he swore he would rule for the next one billion years.

Gambia’s election outcome is encouraging, proof that democracy is spreading across the continent. Rather than violence, disaffected people are choosing the ballot to express their disgust at their leader’s ineptitude and unwillingness to change their fortunes.

The strong-man syndrome is slowly losing its grip on African politics. Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has also indicated he will be leaving office before next year’s elections in Angola.

Ghana looks likely to dump John Mahama after one term in office for a less-than-impressive stint. Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan was voted out of office in the April 2015 elections for his poor showing. That is the genius of democracy.

One must deliver or ship out. It is therefore up to those African leaders keen to hang on to power when they have nothing to offer to manage their exit honourably and secure their leadership. Ultimately, an end will come one day.

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