Disappointing turnout in Gambia’s first post-Jammeh elections

The turnout for National Assembly elections in Gambia has been much lower than expected, the IEC chairman has told journalists during a poll visit in Old Yundum.  

Elections

Officials of Gambian Independent Electoral Commission make preparations with police escort ahead of parliamentary elections on April 04, 2017 in Serekunda, Gambia. Gambians will vote for parliament on 6th of April 2017. ( Yusupha Sama – Anadolu Agency )

In small nation’s first election since the fall of strongman Yahya Jammeh, Gambians have gone to polls on Thursday morning to elect their various parliamentary candidates.

“The turnout has been very low— much lower than expected…,” election commission chairman, Alieu Momarr Njai, told journalists.

Njai, who has dared to declare election results against Jammeh who rejected the polls a week after conceding, observed that “people are perhaps relaxed after they succeeded in getting Yahya Jammeh out of power”

He praised the country’s election system as “perfect and no single candidate will complain, we believe”.

The conduct of elections have been very peaceful across the country and there has been very few incidences, IEC vice chairman Malleh Sallah also told journalists.

“The turnout for the presidential elections in the morning was much higher than this parliamentary elections… It is a slow start,” Omar Gitteh, an election official at country’s economic capital, Serrekunda, told The Torch.

Meanwhile, country’s new president Adama Barrow has cast his vote in the morning near his residence in Old Yundum.

He expressed optimism in the victory of the coalition parties that backed him and claimed there is no split amongst them despite their various political differences.

There are 9 political parties with a record 239 registered candidates campaigning for 48 seats in country’s parliamentary elections, according to the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Five seats will be appointed by the president, totaling 53 spots in the small nation’s parliament.

The small country of about 2 million people has 886,000 registered voters, IEC said.

The election presents first major political challenge to country’s new President Adama Barrow who is seeking majority in the National Assembly to conduct host of legal and constitutional reforms.

Barrow leads a coalition of 7 parties who are contesting for dominance in the law-making body against opposition Gambia Democratic Congress and former president’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction parties.

The elections is being monitored by dozens of observers from the African Union, European Union and officials of the regional economic bloc, ECOWAS.

Gambia has come under spotlight since its rocky political transition in December which triggered regional military intervention in the country following Jammeh’s refusal to cede power.

On Wednesday, the chairman of the country’s electoral commission, Alieu Momarr Njai, has told The Torch that his institution will ensure the integrity of the polls are protected.

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