The Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow has called on long-serving ruler Yahya Jammeh to give up power peacefully, like former colonial power Britain did in 1965.

Mr Barrow, a property developer, said he did not want to lead a nation that was not at “peace with itself”.

Mr Jammeh initially accepted defeat in the 1 December poll but then launched court action to annul the result.

The Gambia has not had a smooth transfer of power since independence.

Mr Jammeh has ruled the West African state since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

It is a popular tourist destination because of its beaches.

The West African regional grouping Ecowas has warned it will send troops to oust Mr Jammeh if he refuses to step down when his term expires on 19 January.

Mr Jammeh says the poll was marred by irregularities and has demanded a new election.

‘Better example to our children’

The electoral commission has rejected the allegation and Mr Barrow has said he will declare himself president on 19 January.

In a message posted on social media, he urged “all peace-loving Gambians to advocate, pray and work for a peaceful transfer of executive power for the first time in our history since independence”.

“If the colonialists could peacefully hand over executive powers in accordance with the dictates of the people of The Gambia, we, the citizens, should be able to show a better example to our children,” he added.

The UN and Ecowas have urged Mr Jammeh to respect the will of the people and step down when his term ends.

Last week, a senior Ecowas official said that neighbouring Senegal’s troops were ready to intervene if President Jammeh refused to hand over power.

Mr Jammeh said he would not be intimidated, and Ecowas had no right to interfere in The Gambia’s affairs.

During his 22-year rule, Mr Jammeh gained a reputation as a ruthless leader who crushed dissent in the tiny west African nation.

According to the electoral commission’s final count:

  • Mr Barrow won 222,708 votes (43.3%)
  • President Jammeh took 208,487 (39.6%)
  • A third-party candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 89,768 (17.1%)

Results were revised by the electoral commission on 5 December, when it emerged that the ballots for one area had been added incorrectly.