The former British colony of Gambia goes to the polls on Thursday (1 December) for an election which could see the defeat of incumbent Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the tiny West African country for 22 years. There will be no EU election observers or observers from the Economic Community of West African States at the vote, in a country which has seen years of hardship and a mass exodus of migrants heading for Europe. Gambians make up the largest group per capita of arrivals to Italy by the Mediterranean, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration. Jammeh once declared he would govern “for a billion years if God willed it”, but he faces a united opposition and frustration over the economy which has dominated the campaign. Around 880,000 Gambians are expected at the polls on Thursday in the tiny former British colony, a narrow sliver of land mostly surrounded by French-speaking Senegal.
Opposition rallies on an unprecedented scale have galvanised normally apathetic sections of society – especially the young – after the government’s repressive tactics backfired badly.
“Gambians, this is the only chance we have to remove him from power, if we fail to do so we’ll bite our fingers (regret it). This is the only chance we have. We should utilise it to the maximum,” opposition leader Adama Barrow said last week. Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission will supervise the count. It declared that it owed “allegiance to nobody but the people of this country”.
African Union observers are expected to oversee it, however.
Full Article: No EU observers at Gambia’s election – EurActiv.com.