Gambian opposition parties reject election results

Gambian opposition parties reject election results

Gambian opposition candidates rejected the results of Saturday’s historic vote in the West African nation which suggest incumbent President Adama Barrow was easily re-elected.

According to official results announced by the electoral commission, Barrow received around 53% of the vote on Saturday, far surpassing his closest rival, veteran politician Ousainou Darboe, who won around 28%. In 2016, Barrow ousted former President Yahya Jammeh on charges of human rights abuses and corruption.

Saturday’s vote is seen as a key test of stability as it was the first since Jammeh was forced into exile after refusing to admit defeat, and it was the first vote in more than 27 years without him as a candidate.

The committee reported on the final results on Sunday: Barrow’s main opponent, United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Darboe won 238,253 votes, compared to 457,519 for the incumbent president. The total number of votes cast was 859,567, less than the more than 962,000 people who registered to vote.

Once intimidated by Jammeh’s ubiquitous secret police, crowds of people took to the streets of Banjul on Sunday evening to celebrate, or rode their cars honking their horns. Hundreds of people gathered in a park opposite the Presidential Palace to listen to Barrow speak.

“Democracy has run its course,” Barrow told the enthusiastic crowd after the results were announced. “I was the lucky person to be chosen by you. I will use all resources to make The Gambia a better place for everyone.

Lamela Jallow, a National People’s Party (NPP) supporter who works in a fish market, said he voted for Barrow because the outgoing president built roads and infrastructure projects in rural areas in the during his first term.

“I feel excited and happy,” said the 19-year-old.

Darboe and two other opposition candidates – Mama Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Congress and independent candidate Essa Faal – told reporters on Sunday evening they were concerned about the “undue delay” in announcing the final results.

They also said their agents and representatives raised “a number of issues” at the polling stations and did not approve some results.

Large crowds gathered outside Darboe’s house in the Pipeline district of Banjul on Sunday evening.

“Barrow is a thief,” said 19-year-old Fatou Matta Fofana. “I like UDP because they can do the job. “

Addressing the crowd, Darboe urged supporters to remain peaceful and vowed to seek legal options to challenge the results, before taking to singing along with his supporters.

Newly re-elected Gambian President Adama Barrow waves to supporters after winning presidential elections in Banjul Photography: John Wessels / AFP / Getty Images

Almami Fanding Taal, a spokesperson for the UDP, said the party was investigating the number of registered voters in areas such as the Upper River region, where he worked with the chairman of the Basse Regional Council. He said discrepancies had been found in some areas “in terms of the number of registered voters and high turnout”. Based on their findings, they would decide whether or not to go to court.

Darboe, who was once Barrow’s mentor, ran against Jammeh in three previous elections, but was arrested in 2016 and barred from running. Barrow, who had never held a post before, replaced Darboe and later appointed him to his cabinet, to form a separatist group in 2019.

Also that year, Barrow reneged on a campaign pledge to serve only as a short-term transitional leader for three years, which led to large-scale protests.

In September, he was criticized for forming a political alliance with Jammeh’s former party, the Alliance for Reorientation and Patriotic Building.

More recently, Barrow has come under fire for failing to release the final report of a truth, reconciliation and reparations commission investigating human rights violations under the Jammeh regime. Critics say it was a calculated move to save him from having to act on the report’s recommendations, potentially alienating Jammeh’s supporters he was courting ahead of the election.

Seedy Njie, deputy spokesperson for Barrow Nuclear Power Plant, could not be reached for comment.

Nana-Jo N’dow, the founder of an NGO campaigning against enforced disappearances and summary executions, whose own father disappeared under Jammeh in 2013, said the alliance showed “where the Barrow’s priorities ”. She also said his refusal to quit early was an indication that he “was not going to keep everything he promised”.

Jammeh himself rejected the alliance with Barrow’s party and instead supported a coalition led by opposition candidate Kandeh, who finished in third place, according to official figures. Jammeh had spoken by phone at some of Kandeh’s rallies, calling from exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Gambians voted by dropping marbles into colorful drums. The count began shortly after the polls closed at 5 p.m. GMT on Saturday.

Other candidates included Halifa Sallah of the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism, who was in fourth place, and Abdoulie Jammeh, the former director general of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, in sixth place.

With Reuters


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