Sierra Leone Telegraph: 6 December 2021:
Incumbent president of The Gambia, Adama Barrow was yesterday declared winner of the country’s presidential election by the electoral commission to seal his second term in office, after his failed attempt to undemocratically change the constitution.
With a high turnout at 87%, Barrow polled 53% of the votes against his rival Ousainou Darboe’s 27.7%.
Other opposition candidates – Mama Kandeh who is believed to have the support of exiled former president Yahyah Jammeh came third with 105,892 (12%) and Halifa Sallah polled 32,435 (4%).
Independent candidates Essa Faal and Ablie Jammeh polled 17,206 and 8,252 votes respectively.
But as the opposition parties question the validity of the results and threaten legal action, there is jubilation across the country, especially in the capital Banjul where supporters of Barrow took to the streets to celebrate victory.
There are calls for the country to change its old and outdated method of using marbles to cast votes.
This system was inherited from British colonial rule because of widespread illiteracy in The Gambia. But elections experts say that this method of voting is widely open to fraud and abuse.
Saturday’s election is the first since Yahyah Jammeh was thrown into exile in Equatorial Guinea by ECOMOG troops in January 2017, after refusing to accept presidential election won by Adama Barrow.
Yesterday, former president of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma who is leading the ECOWAS election observation mission in The Gambia spoke ahead of the announcement of the election results and said: “There will be no winner or loser but only one winner, The Gambian people.”
As Barrow’s supporters danced in the streets last night, he told the people of The Gambia: “I will do all I can and utilise every resource at my disposal to make The Gambia a better place for us all.”
Over 50% of Gambians live on less than two dollars a day, with youth unemployment at over 80%. The country relies heavily on tourism which has been severely hit by the Covid pandemic.
Many of Barrow’s supporters say that his victory is based largely on the use of his power of incumbency and the major development strides he has brought to The Gambia, especially road construction in remote parts of the country.
Others say that Barrow’s Laissez-faire style of government has opened the country’s democratic space.
However, his critics say that poverty has widened since Barrow came to power five years ago and that he is slowly becoming a dictator.
But earlier, opposition leaders had rejected the partial results which gave him an early lead.
“At this stage we reject the results announced so far………. All actions are on table.” the main opposition leader Ousainou Darboe and two other candidates said in a joint statement.
It remains to be seen whether the opposition will accept the results or push the country into chaos, which could push the country backwards.