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Gambians Await Presidential Result In Test For Young Democracy

An election official reads out the sealed election drums’ tag numbers for an viewers of election observers in Banjul, Gambia on December 4, 2021. PHOTO: GUY PETERSON / AFP


Gambians have been ready Sunday to seek out out the winner of the primary presidential election within the West African nation since former dictator Yahya Jammeh fled into exile.

Results from solely round 15 of the nation’s 53 electoral districts have to date been printed on-line by the state broadcaster since polls closed at 1700 GMT Saturday.

Speaking on situation of anonymity, an electoral fee official advised AFP that outcomes could be printed district-by-district, with the fee asserting the winner on the finish.

He anticipated that the rely could be completed on Sunday and the consequence introduced by the fee’s president.

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The election is being intently watched as a take a look at of the democratic transition in The Gambia, the place Jammeh dominated for 22 years after seizing energy in a cold coup in 1994.

The ex-autocrat was compelled into exile in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017 after Adama Barrow, then a relative unknown defeated him on the poll field.

Barrow, 56, confronted 5 challengers in his re-election bid.

Several elements have slowed the tally, together with The Gambia’s scarce monetary sources, excessive turnout, and the nation’s uncommon voting system.

Illiteracy is widespread in The Gambia, so voters solid their poll by dropping a marble into a bath marked with their candidate’s color and picture — a follow relationship again to the nation’s previous as a British colony.


– Test of democracy –

Many of the roughly a million eligible voters within the nation of greater than two million persons are hoping for an enchancment of their dwelling requirements.

The Gambia, a sliver of land about 480 kilometres (300 miles) lengthy, which is surrounded by Senegal, is likely one of the poorest nations on this planet.

About half of the inhabitants reside on lower than $1.90 per day, the World Bank says.

The tourism-dependent financial system was additionally dealt a extreme blow by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Barrow is working on a continuity ticket, pointing to infrastructure initiatives accomplished below his watch, in addition to elevated civil liberties.

Political veteran Ousainou Darboe is taken into account by observers to be the main opposition candidate.

Women look on as they wait in line to vote throughout presidential elections within the Manjai Kunda neighbourhood in Banjul on December 4, 2021.  PHOTO: JOHN WESSELS / AFP


The 73-year-old is a lawyer who has represented opponents of Jammeh, and who ran for president towards the previous dictator a number of instances.

He additionally served as international minister after which vice chairman below Barrow, earlier than stepping down in 2019.

International observers can be watching intently for whether or not the dropping candidates settle for defeat, one senior diplomat stated on situation of anonymity, calling it a “critical moment” for Gambian democracy.

Jammeh misplaced to Barrow within the 2016 election however was solely lastly eliminated by army intervention from different west African states.

Barrow himself has already gone again on a promise to stay in energy for under three years and has weakened rhetoric about prosecutions for crimes dedicated below Jammeh.


– Jammeh legacy –

Questions over Jammeh’s persevering with position in politics, and his potential return from exile, have been central themes within the run-up to the election.

In September, Barrow’s NPP get together introduced a pact with Jammeh’s APRC — a controversial transfer that was considered as an electoral ploy.

Jammeh stated the choice had been taken with out his information, and his supporters have fashioned a rival get together. But rights teams worry the pact will diminish possibilities of a trial.

The 56-year-old former dictator retains important political help in The Gambia and has sought to affect the vote, remotely addressing rallies of supporters through the marketing campaign interval.

After coming to workplace, Barrow arrange a reality fee to probe alleged abuses below Jammeh’s rule.

Before hearings led to May, it heard testimony from a whole bunch of witnesses about state-sanctioned dying squads, witch hunts, and forcing bogus cures on AIDS sufferers.

The fee really useful in November the federal government pursue legal prices, in a ultimate report delivered to Barrow however not launched to the general public.

The names of the officers towards whom prices have been really useful have been additionally not launched.

But rights teams stated “there is no doubt that Yahya Jammeh was at the top of that list”.


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