Gambian Opposition Candidate Predicts Victory in Presidental Elections

Posted November 23rd, 2011 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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A leading Gambian opposition candidate says he is confident that he can unseat incumbent President Yahya Jammeh, who is seeking a fourth term in the country's presidential elections on Thursday.

Veteran opposition leader Ousainu Darboe tells VOA that he will win because Gambians are disenchanted with Mr. Jammeh's leadership and are looking for change.

President Jammeh, who is known to toss candy and other gifts to supporters at campaign events, has been accused of forced disappearances, killings and torture. He is also accused of stifling political dissent and press freedoms.

But the longtime ruler's supporters say he has helped improve the country's infrastructure, education and healthcare.

Mr. Jammeh is widely expected to win another five year term after opposition groups failed to form a coalition to mount an effective challenge to his rule.

At the end of campaign season on Tuesday, Gambia's main cities were full of pro-Jammeh posters and t-shirts, with little opposition support to be seen.

While campaigning earlier this month, Mr. Jammeh said neither a vote nor a coup could remove him from power, adding his victory is a “foregone conclusion.” He has previously said that only God can remove him from power.

President Jammeh took power in a bloodless military coup in 1994, and since then the tiny West African country has been relatively stable.

Gambia is the smallest country in Africa, a thin sliver of land surrounded on three sides by Senegal.

Due to high levels of illiteracy, the country uses an archaic voting system devised by British colonialists. Instead of ballot papers, Gambians will vote by dropping a marble into a drum that represents the candidate of their choice.