The leader of Gambia’s main opposition United Democratic Party said his and five other parties plan to boycott the country’s March 29th legislative election unless the Independent Election Commission [IEC] can assure them of a level playing field. Ousainou Darboe’s comments came as other opposition leaders in The Gambia have asked the Economic Community of West African States [ECOWAS] to arbitrate the dispute ahead of the election. Darboe said the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction Party of President Yahya Jammeh is also abusing the power of incumbency in order to tilt the election results in its favor. “I have joined with other opposition parties in the country not to participate in the upcoming National Assembly election. This due is to the fact that the IEC has rejected our demand for a postponement of the election so as to enable a level playing field being created, which would allow for a free, fair and transparent election,” he said.
Six Gambian opposition parties said on Thursday they will boycott a parliamentary election due to be held later this month, saying it would not be transparent and urging mediators to secure a postponement of the vote. The group boycotting the poll includes the UDP party, the main opposition to President Yahya Jammeh. However, the second-largest rival NRP has said it will stand in the March 29 vote. Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, won re-election late last year but the African Union was uncharacteristically critical of the poll, saying he benefited from a strong media bias and greater financial resources in the race. The opposition parties have complained there is no level political playing field and accuse the ruling party of using state resources.
The Gambia: Gambian Incumbent President Jammeh re-elected with landslide victory, calls for national unity | NL-Aid
President Yahya Jammeh on Friday secured a new five-year term after the Independent Electoral Commission declared him winner of 24th November 2011 presidential election. Results announced by the returning officer and Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mustapha L. Carayol, showed Jammeh polled 72% of the total votes cast while main opposition leader Ousainou Darboe polled 17%. Independent candidate Hamat Bah scored 11% of the total votes cast. Voter turnout was 83%, showing a massive jump from that of the 2006 elections, which was about 59%.
According to the IEC chairman, out of a total number of 796, 929 voters, Hamat Bah polled 73, 060 votes, Ousainou Darboe 114, 177 votes while President Yahya Jammeh polled 470, 550 votes. Jammeh’s victory, seen by many as a foregone conclusion, was also described as historic in the country’s politics, as Jammeh won with a landslide in all the 48 constituencies across the country.