Gambia’s president Adama Barrow headed for landslide victory
Gambia’s incumbent president, Adama Barrow, is headed for a landslide victory in the presidential election, partial results have indicated.
Saturday’s vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former president Yahya Jammeh, who lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016.
Jammeh, who ruled the tiny country with an iron fist for 22 years, had tried to persuade supporters to vote for an opposition coalition.
But his pleas did not sway voters who appeared adamant in their choice of Barrow.
According to late Sunday reports, the president, who only needs to win more votes than the second-placed candidate, won 36 of the first 41 constituencies announced, taking 315,547 votes.
His nearest rival, political veteran Ousainou Darboe, had 133,177 votes, with four other candidates far behind. Only 12 constituencies remained to be announced.
As he voted on Saturday near the presidential palace, Barrow predicted "the biggest landslide victory in the history of this country," saying "in the next 24 hours my people will be celebrating in the streets".
Three opposition candidates rejected the partial results announced by the election commission they said in a statement, citing an unusual delay in tallying the votes.
“At this point in time we reject the results announced thus far by the IEC,” said Darboe and two other candidates, adding that “all actions are on table”.
The Gambia uses a unique voting system – marbles dropped into each candidate’s ballot drum – to avoid spoiled ballots in a nation with a high illiteracy rate.
Many voters in the nation of more than two million people are hoping for an improvement in their living standards.
The Gambia, a sliver of land about 480 kilometres (300 miles) long, which is surrounded by Senegal, is one of the poorest countries in the world.
About half of the population live on less than $1.90 per day, the World Bank says.
The tourism-dependent economy in the former British colony was also dealt a severe blow by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Barrow is running on a continuity ticket, pointing to infrastructure projects completed under his watch, as well as increased civil liberties.