2021 Presidential Election: Reoccurrence or Upsurge?

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By Amara Thoronka

In 2016 many Gambian politicians, with divergent political ideologies though, came together to fight a common cause, using the ballots to unseat and end the 22-year rule of ex-President Yahya Jammeh. Prior to the said election, one predominant undecided factor was the chosen person to hold the coalition flag and face Yahya Jammeh in the polls. The coalition – National Peoples Party – unanimously decided to choose businessman Adama Barrow to lead the democratic fight. With the resolved eagerness for change, thousands of Gambians voted in Barrow as the new President of the small West African nation.

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The 2016 election was contested by three candidates: Adama Barrow of National Peoples Party (NPP); Yahya Jammeh of Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party and Mama Kandeh of Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) party. Barrow won with 227,708 votes (43.28%) followed by Jammeh with 208,487 votes (39.63%) and Kandah with 89,768 votes (17.06%).

Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) reported that 886,578 Gambians registered to vote in the said election. Due to probable non-voting circumstances such as death, traveling, sickness and more, a total of 526,135 people voted with 172 invalid votes and 525,963 valid votes.

President Barrow’s five-year mandate is elapsing and thus seeks re-election. The 4th December 2021 presidential election (just a few days to go) is deemed as a decision to either re-elect Barrow or replace him.

However, a recent opinion poll survey titled: “The Gambia Pre-election Opinion Poll Survey 2021,” done by the Center for Policy, Research and Strategic Studies (CepRass) shows that incumbent President Adama Barrow will win the December 4 polls in all regions.

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According to the survey, the proportion of respondents is high in Banjul, followed by West Coast Region (WCR) and Central River Region (CRR) and low in Upper River Region (URR). In all regions, it indicates that President Barrow’s National Peoples Party (NPP) wins the voting intentions of Gambians with the greatest performance in URR and CRR.

While there are undecided voters in all regions, the proportion of respondents in the regions that are undecided is not as substantial as it was in the first opinion poll survey conducted mid this year. This shows that across all the regions, most respondents have now decided on which candidate to elect. The survey says Banjul and Brikama have the most undecided voters among the respondents.

Statistically, 44% of respondents revealed that NPP will win the presidential election, while 24% submitted that Ousainou Darboe’s (UDP) will win. 5% of the respondents favoured Mama Kandeh’s Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) while 2% goes to Halifa Sallah’s Peoples Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS). 1% each preferred Abdoulei Jammeh’s National Unity Party (NUP) and independent candidate Essa Faal respectively. 24% of the respondents reported that they could not decide the winner of the said election.

In summary, the poll puts President Barrow in first position; Ousainou Darboe, second; Mama Kandeh, third; Halifa Sallah, fourth; while Abdoulei Jammeh and Essa Faal battle for fifth position.

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President Barrow won the 2016 presidential election with 43.28 percent. The recent opinion poll on the forthcoming presidential election indicates that he would win with 44%. Put simple, it infers that 2016 election statistics would either repeat itself or slightly increase in favour of President Barrow.

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