Early Results: Gambian President Headed to Re-Election

Posted November 25th, 2011 at 10:45 am (UTC-5)
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Preliminary results show Gambian President Yahya Jammeh is headed to re-election in a poll that has been condemned by the region's main economic bloc.

Election officials said Friday that Mr. Jammeh had won 75 percent of the vote with about half of the votes counted.

Main opposition leader Ousainu Darboe had about 15 percent and independent candidate Hamat Bah had 10 percent.

Final results are expected later Friday.

On Thursday, Mr. Jammeh said voters would elect him to a new five-year term based on his record since taking power in a coup 17 years ago. He said he has accomplished more than the British did during 400 years of colonialism.

The president's supporters say he has helped improve the country's infrastructure, education and health care. But his critics say Gambia is still deep in poverty. They accuse the president of being responsible for killings and torture, and stifling political dissent and press freedoms.

The Economic Community of West African States said this week the vote cannot be considered fair, citing alleged intimidation of voters and ruling party control of the media.

The head of Gambia's election commission rejected the criticism. Mustapha Carayol told VOA Thursday that each party campaigned freely and there was no intimidation.

Opposition candidate Ousainu Darboe told VOA Gambians are disenchanted with Mr. Jammeh and are ready for change.

Gambia uses a unique voting method in which voters drop a marble into a drum representing their candidate. The system was devised to circumvent the West African country's high illiteracy rate.