Property developer Adama Barrow says his shock win of the Gambian election heralds new hope for the country.
Yahya Jammeh, an authoritarian president who ruled for 22 years, has confirmed he will step down.
“I will help him work towards the transition,” Mr Jammeh said on state TV on Friday evening, after speaking to the president-elect by telephone.
Mr Barrow, 51, who has never held political office, won Thursday’s election with 45.5 per cent of the vote.
Hundreds of Gambians took to the streets to celebrate one of the biggest election upsets West Africa has ever seen.
Mr Jammeh, also 51, took power in a bloodless coup in 1994 and has ruled the country with an iron fist ever since.
President Jammeh took 36.7 per cent of the vote, while a third party candidate, Mama Kandeh, won just 17.8 per cent.
The BBC’s Umaru Fofana, who spoke to Mr Barrow, said the president-elect seemed bewildered by the result.
President Jammeh has congratulated the property developer and vowed not to contest the results after deciding “that I should take the backseat”.
“I am very, very, very happy. I’m excited that we win (sic) this election and from now hope starts,” Mr Barrow told the BBC’s Umaru Fofana, adding that he was disappointed not to have won by a larger margin.
Born in 1965 near the eastern market town of Basse, Mr Barrow moved to London in the 2000s where he reportedly used to work as a security guard at an Argos catalogue store.
He returned to The Gambia in 2006 to set up his own property company, which he still runs today.
Mr Barrow, who is leading an opposition coalition of seven parties, has promised to revive the country’s struggling economy, look at imposing a two-term presidential limit and introduce a three-year transitional government.