It was a crucial vote for this young democracy. Outgoing President Adama Barrow was declared the winner of the presidential election in The Gambia on Sunday (December 5th). Even before the final proclamation, his opponents said they dispute the results and reserve “All means of action”.
“At this stage we reject the results announced so far” by the commission, Ousainu Darbo had told the press, alongside two other of the six competitors, before the announcement of the final results. “All the means of action are on the table”, he added by calling “All Gambians to remain calm and peaceful” time for investigations to be carried out. The representatives of these candidates present during the counting operations noted “A number of problems”, he said.
Adama Barrow, whose accession to the presidency, five years ago, had put an end to more than 20 years of dictatorship, was then ahead of his main competitor, Ousainu Darbo, in almost all of the some 50 constituencies (out of 53) including the electoral commission had communicated the results. The election, which took place on Saturday, is played over a single round.
« Moment capital »
About a million Gambians, out of a population of two million, were called upon to choose from among six candidates, all men, the one who will lead for five years the smallest country in mainland Africa, which is also one of the poorest in the world. world. On Saturday, Gambians crowded into the voting booths.
Five years after the end of the dictatorship, democratic consolidation is one of the major challenges of the election, as is the fate of the former dictator, Yahya Jammeh, and the economic crisis.
The international community will be attentive to the acceptance or challenge by the losers of the results formalized by the commission, said a senior international diplomat speaking of « moment capital ». The Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a major player in the post-electoral crisis of 2015 and the forced departure of dictator Jammeh, called in a statement “All the candidates to accept in good faith the outcome of this election which will have neither winner nor loser, but only one winner, the Gambian people”.
Five years ago, Mr Barrow, a former property developer now 56, beat the odds and beat dictator Jammeh. His election had thus put an end to more than twenty years of a regime characterized by a multitude of atrocities committed by the State and its agents: assassinations, enforced disappearances, rapes, acts of torture …
Mr. Jammeh, who refused to acknowledge his defeat, was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea under the pressure of a West African military intervention. The 2021 presidential election is the first without him since 1996.
Ousainu Darbo, 73, lawyer, four times second behind Yahya Jammeh in the presidential election, however accuses his opponent Adama Barrow of having failed in all his commitments to stay in power.
Mr Barrow has indeed reneged on his initial promise to stay in power for only three years. He has also significantly toned down his past commitments to holding those responsible for the crimes of the Jammeh years to account. On the contrary, his newly created party has forged an alliance with that of the former autocrat. If re-elected, he will have to decide whether or not to follow the recommendations of a commission charged with investigating the Jammeh period, which called for those responsible for the crimes committed during that time to be brought to justice.