State House is up for Grab
DAILY NEWS: Gambians will go to the polls tomorrow – Thursday Nov.24 - to elect a president. Polls will open from seven o’clock in the morning to four in the afternoon, according to the country’s electoral body. Widely viewed as the favorite over the two opposition alliances, Gambia’s military turned civilian president Yahya Jammeh is seeking for reelection for a fourth term of office. Contesting against him are his long time close rival, main opposition UDP’s Ousainou Darboe, who is in alliance with GMC, and PPP and former NRP, now independent candidate Hamat Bah, who still has the backing of his party and three other parties – GPDP, NADD and PDOIS. This year’s presidential election will be the fourth five-year constitutional exercise in the second republic. The Gambia has since independence in 1965 been observing multi-party politics with its founding president, Dawda Jawara emerging victorious through-out until in 1994 when his 32 year rule was brought to a forceful end by then captain Yahya Jammeh led Junta of five young soldiers. Following a two-year transition, multi party politics was restored and Jammeh, who turned his junta into a civilian political party won the presidential contest. He earned 55.76 percent compared to Darboe’s 35.84, Hamat’s 5.52 and Sidia Jatta’s 2.87 percent. The voter turnout was 88.35 percent. Jammeh’s popularity however declined in 2001 when he narrowly escape going into the second round of voting. He bagged 52.96 percent, compared to Darboe’s 32.67, Hamat’s 7, late Sheriff Dibba’s 3.77 and PDOIS’ Sidia Jatta’s 3.03 percent. This prompted him to tamper with the constitution, introducing a system of simple majority. The voter turn out was 89.83 percent. In 2006 Jammeh incredibly increased his votes, securing 67.31 percent of the votes, compared to UDP/NRP alliance’s 26 percent and NADD’s 5.98 percent. However there was a massive voter apathy of over 47 percent. Going into this year’s poll, virtually all political commentators believe that Jammeh will have a resounding victory over Darboe and Hamat. But besides the contesting opposition parties and their supporters, some however believe that the opposition, despite their split, can make surprises. Babucarr Ceesay, a freelance journalist said, the race will not be an easy ride for Jammeh. He is not even ruling out the possibility of opposition victory. Meanwhile, IEC announced on Monday that the stipulated time for the end of campaign is midnight of the 22nd November 2011. Over seven hundred thousand voters have registered for this year’s election.