The Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh, has said the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) should “do what is right and fear no one” after he raised concerns over “free and fair polls.”
On Thursday, Mr. Alieu Momar Njai told Jammeh that some people are saying that the upcoming December 1 presidential election will not be “free and fair.”
Jammeh was at the IEC headquarters on Bertil Harding Highway on November 10, 2016 to undergo the nomination process as he seek a fifth term.
IEC Chair, Njai, also raised concerns over allegations that foreigners are usually registered to vote in Gambian elections. He said the allegation is false, before calling on all parties involved to ensure the conduct of peaceful, free and fair polls.
To dispel allegations of election rigging, Mr. Jammeh said “let them come over and observe every stage of the elections”. He also said: “Invite them [referring to the international community] to come and observe the elections.”
“You cannot listen to everyone and satisfy everyone. Do what is right and fear no one,” Jammeh reiterated. He also said those claiming foreigners are being registered to vote in Gambia should lodge their complaints with the IEC.
High income status
Jammeh, who is running on a ticket of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), said he is sure he will win the elections. He also promises university education, high income status and economic superpower.
“By the next five years, the country would have achieved three things: free university education and free education at all levels; the country would have reached high income status; and the country would just be four years away from the economic superpower status,” he said.
Seeking a fifth term
Barrow is backed by a united opposition coalition of seven political parties and also supported by an independent candidate. Kandeh is leading the newly formed Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC).
President Yahya Jammeh is seeking a fifth term. He has contested and won all presidential elections in the small West African country since 1996 – two years after he seized power as a 29-year old army officer.
While the polls have been certified as smooth and peaceful by election observers, they have been criticized by the opposition and observers for certain irregularities and the lack of an even political playing ground.
Opposition leaders in jailed
In his 22-year grip on power, Mr. Jammeh has been accused of rights abuses and cracking down on his opponents. His supporters credit him for bringing “rapid development” especially on infrastructure.
The United Democratic Party (UDP), Ousainou Darboe and 30 other opposition activists are jailed since July after local courts convicted and sentenced him and supporters to three years in prison for violating the Public Order Act.
The jailed militants were among those arrested for holding a peaceful protest calling for electoral reform in April and further protests to call for the release of detained protesters. Two activists have since died in state custody.
The campaign group, Human Rights Watch, accuses the Jammeh-led government of presiding over a climate of fear in its report “More Fear Than Fair” published on