Gambia: It’s Yahya Jammeh Again
|Gambian President Yahya Jammeh speaks to reporters as he leaves a polling station in Banjul November 24. (AFP)|
Gambians have re-elected Yahya AJJ Jammeh, the presidential candidate of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) on Thursday to serve another five-year term of office.
On Friday, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Alhagie Mustapha L. Carayol declared Yahya Jammeh winner of the November 24, 2011 polls. He won 470, 550 (72%) of the popular vote. His challengers, Ousainou ANM Darboe, candidate of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and Hamat NK Bah, an independent candidate backed by four parties collectively called “the united front” bagged 114, 177 (17%) and 73, 060 (11%) of the total votes cast respectively.
But Mr Darboe, who has failed in his attempt to unseat Jammeh for the fourth time, said Thursday’s results are “fraudulent and bogus” and has refuse to accept defeat during an address to his supporters at his residence in Pipeline, Kanifing Municipality, shortly after the announcement.
Mr Darboe decline to grant an interview to press corps who gathered at his house, but jointly issued a brief statement together with his backed Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), the newest party led by lawyer Mai NK Fatty.
He said his party shall respond to these unacceptable results with “appropriate action” without explaining what that exactly means.
At the time of this report, his compatriot, Hamat NK Bah was having a closed-door meeting with “the United Front” in Churchill’s Town, Serrekunda. He had also declined to give an immediate reaction to the final results.
By 6pm local time, well before Yahya Jammeh, president elect, comment on his re-election, his party supporters poured into the July 22nd Square in the Capital, Banjul where they hold celebrations overnight. Military trucks can be seen transporting APRC supporters dressed in green, the party’s colour, others are in white T-shirts bearing Jammeh’s image. The streets of Serrekunda, the country’s biggest town were also filled with jubilant APRC supporters, some of whom walked to Banjul (about 10 kilometers).
Not free and fair
The West African grouping, the Economic Community of West African States announced on the eve of the election (November 24, 2011) that it will not honour an invitation by the IEC to monitor the election process, stating that the political environment in the country does not meet the minimum standards for the conduction of elections.
ECOWAS said the election process “will not be free and fair” and feared post-election violence, saying the opposition has been cowed and that the whole process was being conducted under a “climate of fear”.
President Jammeh has won every presidential election in the country since 1996, two years after his military-led junta turned civilian government ousted former president Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara in a bloodless coup in 1994.
In 2006, he won the election with 67.33 percent of the popular vote, his main challenger, UDP’s Ousainou Darboe pulled 26.69 percent and Mr Halifa Sallah of the National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD) get 5.98 percent. Mr Hamat NK Bah did not contest that election; he was running mate to Mr Darboe.
Meanwhile, international observers including the African Union (AU), European Union (EU) and the International Islamic Organisation are expected to issue statements on the election process on Saturday and Sunday. Some of them have since the close of polls on Thursday certify the voting process as smooth and peaceful, but noted that there were no opposition agents in some of the polling stations they visited.
“Although the poll was conducted in a peaceful manner, more democratic reforms are needed to strengthen governance in the country,” A Commonwealth expert team which observed the 24 November 2011 elections in The Gambia has said.
For the African Union observer mission: "Although provision was made for equal access of all political parties and candidates to the public media, the actual coverage was strongly weighted in favour of the candidate of the ruling party."
- Author: Modou S. Joof
The author is a Gambian journalist, News Editor of The Voice Newspaper in Banjul and Publisher of The North Bank Evening Standard.
Follow me on twitter: (@Msjoof)