Gambia’s election Polls closed at 1700 on Thursday when officials began the process of counting the marbles that voters had cast for one of three presidential candidates. Voters on Thursday queued at polling stations all day to place a marble in one of three coloured ballot drums – green for President Yahya Jammeh, grey for Barrow and purple for the third candidate – former ruling party deputy Mama Kandeh. Gambian officials say the system is designed to avoid spoiled ballots and to simplify the process for illiterate voters. State Television announced results from two constituencies outside the capital Banjul showed a slight lead for Jammeh and opposition leader Adama Barrow close behind. Gambian authorities had cut the internet, barred international calls and sealed land borders. The election poses the first serious challenge to President Yahya Jammeh since he seized power in a coup 22 years ago.
“The internet service, I don’t know why they have to block the internet because so many people are surviving through this internet service. So to my own idea they should not block the internet. They should bring the internet to the people because some people are there, living through this internet service,” said Churno Jallow, an Artist.
A Western diplomatic source said the National Intelligence Agency had informed them that internet and phone outages would last until Sunday.
Rallies for the main opposition challenger, businessman Adama Barrow, have attracted crowds of thousands – a rare show of defiance towards a leader who rights groups say frequently imprisons and tortures opposition figures.