Gambia’s president concedes

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — Gambia’s president of 22 years acknowledged his election defeat on state television Friday night, vowing to step down hours after news of the results prompted thousands to celebrate in the streets in an unprecedented display of disdain for his rule.

With cameras rolling, Yahya Jammeh called the winner, opposition coalition leader Adama Barrow, on a mobile phone to praise the election and vow not to contest the result.

“Allah is telling me my time is up and I hand over graciously with gratitude toward the Gambian people and gratitude toward you,” Jammeh said.

Jammeh, a man long accused of heading a government that tortures opponents and silences all dissent, was jovial on the call, promising to help Barrow through the transition period before retiring to his home village to begin a new life as a farmer.

It was a stunning turn of events in a country where critics have long alleged votes are rigged. Just five years ago, Jammeh said he could stay in power for a billion years.