Elections in Gambia: Voters cast marbles in crucial test for stability

This is Gambia’s first democratic election since the former President Yahya Jammeh has been voted out of office in 2016.
Jammeh, who was defeated by an opposition coalition supporting the incumbent President Adama Barrow, escape to Equatorial Guinea in 2017 after refusing to admit defeat.

Barrow, a 56-year-old former security guard and real estate developer, will face five challengers including his former political adviser, Ousainou Darboe, 73.

Nearly 1 million people out of 2.5 million people are registered to vote in the mainland Africaof the smallest country. According to the Independent Election Commission (IEC), turnout is expected to be high.

At a polling station in the capital Banjul, election officials carried out voting drums to show the long line of voters they had vacated before voting began.

Siddy Khan was the first to vote in his booth. He stepped out with his cane, blue ink on his right index finger to show he had voted. “I feel good. I hope the vote goes well,” said the 71-year-old.

Mamadou A. Barry, a returning IEC employee, said gamblers feel comfortable with the process of using glass marbles to vote. This system was introduced in the 1960s to avoid spoiled ballots in a country with high percentages of illiteracy ratio.

“Each voter will get one marble,” he said. “I think it is transparent and fair.”

Results are expected on Sunday under the simple majority system.

Other candidates include Essa Mbye Faal, who served as chief counsel to the Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Compensation Commission, which has documented abuses of Jammeh’s rule, and Mama Kandeh, who came in second. three in 2016 and is backed by Jammeh.

On Thursday night as the campaign ended, hundreds of jubilant Barrow supporters gathered in downtown Banjul for one last rally, hoping another Barrow term would ensure stability as the Gambia sought to place 22 years of rule of Jammeh.

Barrow, who has made lavish promises throughout the campaign, told the crowd that he intends to introduce health insurance that will allow access to treatment with no upfront payment.

Critics, however, argue that Barrow has broken his promise, pointing to how he returned to his pledge to serve only three years after winning in 2016. Barrow has argued that the constitution requires it. he must serve the full term of 5 years.

Barrow’s main challenger, Darboe, told supporters on Thursday that he intends to work towards reconciling the Gambians and bringing justice to those who suffer under the rule. by Jammeh.


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