Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh said on Friday he rejects the outcome of last week's election that he lost to opposition leader Adama Barrow and called for fresh elections.
The announcement made on state television throws the future of the West African country into doubt after an unexpected election result that ended Jammeh's 22-year rule and was widely seen as a moment of democratic hope.
"After a thorough investigation, I have decided to reject the outcome of the recent election. I lament serious and unacceptable abnormalities which have reportedly transpired during the electoral process," Jammeh said.
"I recommend fresh and transparent elections which will be officiated by a god-fearing and independent electoral commission," he said.
Human rights groups said Jammeh's government detained, tortured and killed opponents during his rule and his defeat sparked wild celebrations. But some people also said they doubted whether he would accept defeat.
Official election results from the electoral commission gave Barrow, a real estate developer who once worked as a security guard at retailer Argos in London, 45.5 percent of the vote against Jammeh's 36.7 percent.
Barrow is set to take over in late January following a transition period.