The president has been isolated by the majority of those who supported his candidacy in 2016
His rivals include his political mentor, Ousainou Darboe.
MADRID, 3 (EUROPA PRESS)
The Gambia will hold a presidential election this Saturday marked by the intention of the president, Adama Barrow, to achieve re-election after ignoring his 2016 commitment to be only three years in office and after reaching a controversial alliance with the party of the former dictator Yahya Jamé .
Barrow, who won in December 2016 after presenting his candidacy as an independent with the support of groups opposed to Jamé, was sworn in in January 2017 after the dictator went into exile in Equatorial Guinea after rejecting his defeat at first.
The arrival of Barrow to power marked the opening of a chapter of hope in the country after the Jamé regime – who had come to power after a military coup in 1994 – especially for his promises of political openness and to investigate human rights abuses during the mandate of his predecessor.
In fact, one of the ‘flagships’ of his mandate has been the Gambia Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRRC), which delivered its final report on Friday after two years of investigations and interrogations of suspects and victims of these abuses. , a document Barrow promised to “study carefully.”
However, the commission cannot issue judgments and will simply recommend the opening of legal proceedings against those suspected of human rights abuses and violations between July 1994 and January 2017, among whom is almost totally likely Jamé, who for now is He has refused to return to the country.
Despite the fact that the former dictator continues in Equatorial Guinea, a country that gave him shelter after finally giving up power under pressure from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – which even threatened a military intervention -, Jamé’s shadow will be present at the elections.
The situation stems from Barrow’s decision, which in January presented his own party, the National People’s Party, to join forces with the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), a coalition harshly criticized by the opposition and even rejected. by Jamé.
“We are in alliance with the APRC by principle, an alliance based on the best interest of this country, national security and reconciliation,” said Barrow, who had already cast doubts about his figure when in 2019 he announced that he would ignore his commitment to spend three years in office, which caused a fracture among his followers.
Barrow’s decision, who included this three-year term commitment as one of the main pillars of his 2016 election campaign to rally the opposition to Jamé, was followed by a wave of criticism and demonstrations that were repressed by the security forces.
‘THREE YEARS JOTNA’
In response to Barrow’s decision, hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital, Banjul, and other cities in the country in the framework of the movement known as ‘Three Years Jotna’, mobilizations that led to incidents and resulted in about 130 detainees.
After that, the main leaders of the movement were charged with illegal assembly, disturbances and destruction of property, while the authorities announced the outlawing of ‘Three Years Jotna’ and the suspension of the operations of several stations, which increased criticism against the Barrow Government.
The spokesman for the Gambian Army, Ebrima Sankareh, said in statements to the press to justify these measures that ‘Three Years Jotna’ was a subversive, violent and illegal movement, before adding that “it was never legally registered.”
Finally, Sankareh himself announced in May the end of the legal proceedings opened against members and followers of the movement and argued that it was “a humanitarian gesture to promote peace and reconciliation among all actors in the political sphere,” especially from face to the presidential elections.
However, Barrow’s decision to fulfill his mandate was not criticized by the entire coalition that supported him, which sowed division within it and undermined the internal support available to the president.
This situation could have led Barrow to turn towards the APCR to the surprise of some of his allies, who have viewed the rapprochement with Jamé’s party with surprise and have shown the fear that it could lead to a blockade of causes recommended by the TRRC. against former high officials.
The new alliance between the NPP and the APRC materialized in September 2020, when members of Jamé’s party aligned themselves with the Barrow formation to block a draft Constitution that included a two-term limit on presidents, something to which the head of state is opposed.
In addition to Barrow, the electoral commission has accepted five other nominations, including Barrow’s former political mentor, Ousainou Darboe, who is running for the fifth time in a presidential election in the African country.
Darboe, 73, was for two decades the main opposition leader to Jamé at the head of the United Democratic Party (PDU), although his arrest and sentence to three years in prison in 2016 led to the formation to support Barrow’s candidacy to the polls.
However, he was released on bail shortly after Barrow’s victory, after which he was appointed Foreign Minister between February 2017 and June 2018, at which point he was placed in charge of the Women’s Affairs portfolio and appointed as vice president. The constant tensions between the two finally led to his dismissal from both positions in March 2019, especially due to Darboe’s refusal to support the president’s will to run for re-election.
Likewise, in the final list of candidates are Mama Kandeh, who is running as a candidate for the Democratic Congress of the Gambia (CDG), a party she created in 2016 after her expulsion from the APCR and with which she came in third place in the elections of the same anus.
Kandeh hopes to rally the votes of the split within the APRC after his coalition with Barrow’s party. The other candidates are Essa Mbye Faal, who was the main adviser to the TRRC, the former head of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority Abdoulie Ebrima Jammeh, for the National Unity Party (NUP) and Halifa Sallah, a parliamentarian of the Organization. People’s Democratic Party for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS).
The electoral commission has rejected a total of 15 candidacies for breaches of constitutional requirements, including not complying with the necessary guarantees to support the nomination of a candidate, as detailed by the organism’s spokesman, Makan Khan.
The country, of 2.1 million inhabitants and surrounded by Senegal except for its outlet to the sea, is one of the most densely populated on the continent and has suffered an economic crisis fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected the tourism sector , according to data from the World Bank.
Thus, the country has suffered a reduction in GDP per capita of 3.1 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year, which has caused a “reversal” in the reduction of poverty, which went from 8.4 percent in 2019 to 9.2 percent in 2020.
Inflation has also increased since January 2021 with an increase in food prices, which is affecting food security, although public debt is “sustainable” and the macroeconomic management and delivery of funds by the Donors have helped “reduce the fiscal deficit.”