By Kebba Jeffang
The President of the Gambia Adama Barrow has casted his vote on Thursday morning 6 April in the parliamentary election since he became head of state in January following his December election in which he defeated ex-president Yahya Jammeh who served for 22 years.
“There is no split. This is about democracy and this is the new Gambia and I think everybody has the right to exercise your own right. This is a tactical alliance and I think it is a democratic process. There is unity in the cabinet and in the coalition,” he said to journalists as he responded to a question over the split of the coalition whose joint forces guaranteed him a win over the long term ruler Jammeh.
Abdou Karim Sey, the presiding officer at the Old Yundum polling station where the President voted said the polling station was opened at 8 am in the presence of polling agents representing the various candidates.
“They were all around and they got involved in every process including sealing the boxes where ballot tokens are dropped in. They are all seated here to monitor the situation just to ensure transparency. There are 8 candidates in the polling station. Since we started we have not got any challenge so far,” he said.
“Everything has been going on smoothly up to the arrival of the President. We will be closing by 5 pm and there will be on the spot counting and the results will be pasted on the polling wall and it will be collated later at the collation centre at the Gambia College in Brikama,” Sey said.
Amadou Ceesay, a voter found on the queue said he is deciding who among the 8 candidates should represent him in the National Assembly. He hopes to see his candidate win at the end of the day so as to represent him well.
“Gambia is always a peaceful country and I hope we maintain that peace because that is our value as a country. I advise everyone to vote without any problem and go home to listen to the radios for results,” he expressed.
Jainaiba Bah one of the female voters also on the voting queue expressed that the parliamentary election is one of the most important in the election calendar. She urged all and sundry to keep the peace in the country.
There are 238 national assembly candidates who are seeking votes from total registered voters of over 886 thousand voters. 53 seats are to be filled by election while the remaining 5 seats that take the total seats to 58 are to be nominated by the President. The Speaker of the National Assembly and the deputy Speaker will be selected among the nominated members. There are currently 9 registered political parties who are all sponsoring candidates in respective constituencies as well as independent candidates who are contesting under no party banner.
This is the first election conducted in the absence of Jammeh as president for over 22 years. He fled the country for Equatorial Guinea in January after he was threatened to be forcefully ousted by the ECOWAS forces.