Countdown to 2016 Gambia presidential election

Alieu Momarr Njai, chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of Gambia, has confirmed that the West African country will hold its presidential election on 1 December this year.

He told journalists at a press briefing that nomination papers would be available at IEC headquarters on 3 October. The completed nomination papers would be received from candidates from 7-10 November.

He said that the campaign for the election would be from 16-29 November, 20016. Polling would be from 8 am to 5 pm and counting would be done immediately after the pools close.  There are 886,578 eligible voters, up from 796,926 in 2011.

Proposals for genuine electoral reforms by the opposition have been ignored and the government has decided to go ahead with 1 December election.

President Yahaya Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 military coup has ruled the country with an iron fist. The international community has repeatedly questioned his human rights record. Two opposition leaders have died in custody this year.

Jammeh, who is contesting this year’s election again, was elected as president in 1996 and re-elected in 2001, 2006, and 2011. Eight candidates, including a woman, are expected to contest the poll.

Women’s rights activist Dr. Isatou Touray has declared herself before a gathering of her supporters as an independent presidential candidate; she rejects the call to turn Gambia into an Islamic state, saying such a move is intended to divide the population and set Gambians against each other.

“I will uphold and reinforce the secular republican status of the Constitution, where every Gambian will be free to practise religion in accordance with their faith, in The Gambia where democracy, good governance and human rights will prevail.”

Meanwhile, United Democratic Party (UDP) has picked Adama Barrow as its candidate for the presidency.

Barrow, 51, was nominated to replace UDP leader Ousainou Darboe who is currently serving a three-year jail term together with other party members.