This is clearly the year of surprising election results, but the most shocking so far might not be Brexit or Trump, but rather the peaceful defeat of the incumbent Yahya Jammeh in Gambia’s presidential election. Why is this surprising? Because he was one of the harshest African dictators around, notorious for his quixotic and personal rule which crushed all opposition (including interference in this and other elections), was in power for over two decades
But in the most recent elections, he not only lost, but publicly conceded the election, something few African leaders, much less notorious dictators, sadly ever seem to do. How did this happen? It was likely a combination of a finally unified opposition (though an internationally unknown candidate), the economic straits that Jammeh has led the country into, including causing Gambia to be on the largest “exporters” of illegal migrants to Europe, despite a population of less than 2 million, and the increased international pressure on Jammeh as his despotism became increasingly noticeable, including withdrawing from the ICC earlier this year.