Gambians vote in first presidential election since Jammeh period

Saturday’s voting can be carefully watched as a take a look at of the democratic transition within the nation, the place Jammeh dominated for 22 years.

Gambians have been because of head to the polls on Saturday, within the first presidential election within the tiny West African nation since former dictator Yahya Jammeh fled into exile.

The voting can be carefully watched as a take a look at of the democratic transition within the nation, the place Jammeh dominated for 22 years after seizing energy in a cold coup in 1994.

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

President Barrow, 56, is now operating for re-election, and faces 5 different candidates.

Political veteran Ousainou Darboe is taken into account the main opposition candidate.

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 vp underneath Barrow, earlier than stepping down in 2019.

Many voters within the impoverished nation of greater than two million individuals are hoping for an enchancment of their living requirements.

Widespread poverty

The Gambia, a sliver of a land about 480km (300 miles) lengthy, which is surrounded by Senegal, is likely one of the poorest international locations on the earth.

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

The tourism-dependent financial system within the former British colony was additionally dealt a extreme blow by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barrow is operating on a continuity ticket, pointing to infrastructure tasks accomplished underneath his watch, in addition to elevated civil liberties.

Polls are because of open at 0800 GMT in The Gambia, and set to shut at 1700 GMT.

An entertainer addresses the group throughout an election rally in help of Ousainou Darboe, former Gambian vp and chief of the principle opposition get together, the United Democratic Party (UDP), in Banjul on Thursday [Guy Peterson/AFP]

Each candidate has their very own poll field at Gambian polls, and voters select their most well-liked politician by dropping a marble inside one of many packing containers.

The uncommon voting methodology is a response to low literacy charges within the nation.

Initial ends in the one-round presidential election might be introduced as early as Sunday.

Jammeh’s political shadow

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

The 56-year-old former dictator has additionally sought to affect the vote, calling in to handle rallies of supporters throughout the marketing campaign interval.

Jammeh retains important political help in The Gambia.

Another political camp, nevertheless, is pushing for legal costs towards Jammeh for alleged abuses dedicated underneath his rule.

Barrow arrange a fact fee to probe the alleged abuses after coming to workplace.

Before hearings led to May, it heard testimony from lots of of witnesses about state-sanctioned loss of life squads, witch hunts and forcing bogus cures on AIDS sufferers, amongst different abuses.

The fee beneficial the federal government pursue legal costs in November, in a closing report that it handed to Barrow with out releasing to the general public.

The names of the officers towards whom costs have been beneficial have been additionally not launched.

Criminal costs are politically delicate given Jammeh’s following, nevertheless.

There are additionally rising issues about Barrow’s enthusiasm for prosecutions, regardless of earlier rhetoric that was robust on Jammeh.

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

Jammeh mentioned that call was taken with out his information, and his supporters have shaped a rival get together. But rights teams fear the pact will diminish probabilities of a trial.

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