Gambians vote in first local elections since Yahya Jammeh

Friday April 13 2018

Gambia's President Adama Barrow waves to supporters as he leaves the airport in Banjul on January 26, 2017, after returning from Senegal. FILE PHOTO | CARL DE SOUZA | AFP



Gambians voted on Thursday in the first local elections since long-time former ruler Yahya Jammeh left the country more than a year ago.

Local councils in the country's 120 constituencies are currently dominated by Jammeh's former party, the APRC, but supporters of President Adama Barrow expect to make big gains.

"Our predictions are that we are going to win 84 out of the 113 wards," said Alagie Darboe, a deputy from the United Democratic Party (UDP).


He said the party would not challenge in seven wards as they were "pessimistic" they could win.


The UDP, formerly Gambia's long-time opposition, won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections in April, easily defeating Jammeh's party which has been cast into the electoral wilderness by his departure.

That came after the ousting of Jammeh by President Adama Barrow in a December 2016 presidential election, a result which the defeated leader fought for weeks until the threat of a regional military intervention.

Jammeh, who ruled the west African country for 22 years and was accused of rampant corruption and human rights abuses, is currently in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Results in the local elections are expected on Friday and members of Jammeh's former party insist it will not be a whitewash.

"We have fielded 63 candidates throughout the country and we are confident that we are going to defeat our opponents in those wards", said Yankuba Colley, an official from the APRC.

The last local elections, in 2013, were largely boycotted by the opposition.