Gambia president-elect Adama Barrow eyes polls fraud

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Police officers stand guard during Sunday’s elections in Gambia Gambia is holding elections on Sunday – the first since the departure of longtime leader Yahya Jammeh, who seized power…

Gambia president-elect Adama Barrow eyes polls fraud

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Police officers stand guard during Sunday’s elections in Gambia

Gambia is holding elections on Sunday – the first since the departure of longtime leader Yahya Jammeh, who seized power in a coup in 1994.

Results are not expected until mid-May, and president-elect Adama Barrow has requested international observers.

Analysts say many people fear the poll will produce another constitutional crisis.

Analysts agree that the election will test Mr Barrow’s ability to counter potential unrest, but say he is unlikely to come under violence.

“I believe that the Gambia will witness a peaceful handover of power,” says Simon Prakken, a political analyst at Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana.

The electoral commission said voting for a new parliament was not taking place in the south-east and north of the country because security forces restricted polling there to the west.

On Friday, Mr Barrow met envoys from key international powers, including ambassadors from the US, the UK, France and the EU.

The Associated Press news agency reported on Sunday that foreign diplomats made their way to Banjul airport on Friday evening with the understanding that the elections would be postponed, at least temporarily.

Impunity feared

The ECOWAS regional bloc sent in troops to impose a state of emergency last month to push the electoral commission to cancel the poll.

The ECOWAS mission is staffed by unarmed soldiers, to allay fears of possible violence.

“No stone is being left unturned to ensure that this voting poll is credible and free,” Charles Kanjama, a spokesman for the Gambian government, told the BBC on Friday.

Poll monitors say there have been some irregularities, but they are at a very low level.

Mr Barrow’s closest opponent, opposition leader Professor Solo Sandeng, was strangled in January.

He and his supporters were believed to have been campaigning to block another election.

Police at the funeral of the murdered university teacher urged people not to form permanent lines at polling stations.

Annan Peacekeeping Centre political analyst Mr Prakken says he expects voters to be strict about security at polling stations – whether or not the election is postponed or the electoral commission is accused of fraud.

“If you see that these extra security forces are deployed in odd places around the country, I think it would galvanise a lot of people,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

More than 3.5 million Gambians are eligible to vote.

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