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Gambia: President Adama Barrow secures a second term

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Monday, 6 December 2021 17:58

Gambia's incumbent president, Adama Barrow, was declared the winner of the 4 December 2021 presidential election. © Leo Correa/AP/SIPA

On 5 December, Gambia’s President Adama Barrow was officially re-elected to a second term. This news was greeted in the streets of Banjul by tens of thousands of supporters, but disputed by his opponents.

Adama Barrow won more than 53% of the vote, according to results published by the electoral commission on 5 December, the day after the election. His main challenger, Ousainou Darboe, obtained 27.7% of the vote.

Alieu Momarr Njai, chairman of the commission, told reporters that Barrow was “duly elected to serve as president of the Republic of the Gambia.”

“We reject the results”

On the evening of 5 December, crowds of supporters marched through the streets of the capital Banjul to the sound of  horns. They danced on a vast esplanade and gave Barrow a standing ovation when he addressed them “with a great sense of joy and humility”. He also called on them to “respect” his opponents’ voters. The election, which consisted of one round, was “free, fair and transparent,” he said.

But his rivals say that they will contest the results. “At this stage, we reject the results announced so far,” says Darboe, alongside two other competitors.

“All means of action are on the table,” he adds, calling on “all Gambians to remain calm and peaceful” while investigations are conducted. These candidates’ representatives, who were present when the votes were being counted, noted “a number of problems,” he says.

High turnout

Gambians flocked to the polling booths on 4 December. According to official results, the turnout was around 87%.

About one million of the two million Gambians were asked to choose from six candidates, all men, who will lead the country for five years. About 860,000 of them took part in the vote.

Ecowas, a major player in the forced departure of Yahya Jammeh, had released a statement in which it urged “all candidates to accept the outcome of the election in good faith, an election that will have no winner or loser, but only one victor, the Gambian people.”

Five years ago, Barrow, a former real estate developer who was then virtually unknown to the general public, had – against all odds – defeated Jammeh, who had been in power for over 20 years. This authoritarian leader’s regime carried out a multitude of atrocities, including assassinations, enforced disappearances, rape and torture.

Justice

Jammeh, who refused to concede defeat, had to be removed by military intervention from other west African states and exiled to Equatorial Guinea. This year’s poll was the first election in which Jammeh did not present himself as a presidential candidate since 1996.

Barrow is demanding that freedom be restored to the Gambian people, that construction for roads and markets begin, and for relations with the international community improve. Darboe, a 73-year-old lawyer and four-time runner-up to Jammeh in previous elections, accused the incumbent president of reneging on all his commitments in order to remain in power.

Barrow went back on his initial promise to only stay in power for three years and to prosecute those responsible for crimes committed under Jammeh. His newly formed political formation has even formed an alliance with the former autocrat’s party.

The next president will have to decide whether or not to follow the recommendations of a commission investigating the Jammeh period, which has called for those responsible for crimes committed during that time to be tried.

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