(DAILY NEWS) The Gambia Independent Electoral Commission yesterday certified the nomination of three presidential candidates for the upcoming presidential elections slated for Nov.24 of this year.
The race is between incumbent Yahya Jammeh of APRC, Ousainou Darboe of main-opposition UDP and Hamat Bah, an independent candidate. All the candidates have met the required criteria.
Each of the candidates was accompanied at the headquarters of IEC – Election House – for nomination by their top party members and exited supporters.
The lawyer cum political figurehead of UDP, Ousainou Darboe was the first to be nominated at around 10 in the morning.
Attired in a yellow (his party’s colour symbol) Kaftan, Darboe was received at the entrance to the Election House building by IEC chairman, Mustapha Carayol, who led him into the IEC conference hall where formalities were done.
UDP leader was accompanied into the conference hall by the party bigwigs, including the minority leader of the National Assembly, the chairwoman and secretary general of his party’s women wing.
Next after Darboe’s nomination was independent candidate, Hamat Bah an hour later. Also attired in Kaftan, but of white colour, Mr Bah was also received by chairman Carayol and led into the conference hall. He was seated in between GPDP’s Henry Gomez and PDOIS’ Halifa Sallah.
Sedia Jatta of opposition NADD was also in attendance.
In his usual three-piece white Kaftan, APRC’s Yahya Jammeh was the last to be nominated at around an hour after noon.
He was flanked on his immediate right by Gambian vice president, Isatou Njie Saidy and on the left by his wife, Zaineb Jammeh.
Cabinet ministers and APRC bigwigs, including the national mobiliser, Yankuba Kolley and national women mobiliser of APRC were in attendance too.
Meanwhile, none of the presidential candidates is new in the country’s political terrain. The tiny West African country that was deemed improbable because of its small size and inadequate resources has since independence been conducting a five year uninterrupted presidential and parliamentary elections until in 1994 when soldiers took over.
President Jammeh who led the coup in 1994 has transformed himself from a junta leader to a civilian politician following a two-year transition. He contested and won the 1996, 2001 and 2006 elections.
The races have been generally rated free and fair, but claims of flaws in the electoral process are wild. He will be seeking for a fourth term in office come Nov.24.
Lawyer Darboe, on the other hand has emerged as president Jammeh’s main rival in the three previous races. He is going into the race in alliance with opposition PPP and GMC political parties.
Like UDP and APRC, Hamat Bah has generally been the face of NRP, the party he formed after a return to multi party politics. NRP emerges as the third largest party in the country.
He contested in 1996 and 2001, but rallied behind UDP after both parties were marched out of an alliance of all non-ruling party aligned political parties called NADD.
He has now resigned from NRP to stand as independent in order to have the backing of NADD, GPDP and PDOIS. His party is still with him.