Gambia elections: Ex-President Yahya Jammeh’s shadow looms over poll

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(BBC NEWS) Gambians are voting in their first election since the former President Yahya Jammeh left office and fled the country in 2017.

Six presidential candidates, including the incumbent Adama Barrow, are running.

The election is seen as a litmus test for the West African nation’s democratic transition.

Some 960,000 voters, almost half of the country’s population, are eligible to cast ballots.


Unemployment, economic recovery from the impact of the Covid pandemic, and whether Mr Jammeh should return from exile have been the central issues in the campaign.

Long queues have formed outside several polling stations, but many voters are not wearing masks or observing social distancing measures, the BBC’s Thomas Naadi in the capital, Banjul, reports.

The Gambia’s unique marble voting system – introduced in 1965 because of the country’s high illiteracy rate – is still being used.

On arrival at a polling station, and after their ID has been verified, a voter will be directed to a series of drums painted in the party colours of the different candidates.

Protruding from the top of each drum is a pipe into which the voter will slot a marble handed over by an election official.

Mr Jammeh fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea following his shock defeat in 2017. Last week President Barrow received a long-delayed government report on alleged abuses under his 22-year rule.

Hundreds of witnesses told the truth commission of state-backed executions squads and other rights violations including Aids patients being forced to take bogus cures.

Mr Barrow has promised to ensure justice for the victims.

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