Gambian President Barrow Defies Backers With Reelection Bid
Gambian President Adama Barrow is seeking reelection next month after taking steps to mobilize support ahead of the historic vote.
Barrow’s new National People’s Party will compete against parties that helped propel him to victory in 2016 in a bid to extend his mandate despite an earlier agreement to leave office after three years.
The Dec. 4 elections will be the first since Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the West African nation for 22 years, was unseated. The $2-billion economy, which depends on tourism for nearly a third of its gross domestic product, has never seen a smooth transfer of power.
“I have been in office for five years, and I have one main priority for this country, that is development,” Barrow said Thursday after submitting his candidacy to Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission. “There can be no development without infrastructural development,” he said.
Regional soldiers had to enforce Barrow’s 2016 election victory against Jammeh, who now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea, paving the way for him to take office in January 2017. In a bid to consolidate his political power, Barrow launched the NPP in January and announced a coalition with Jammeh’s APRC party in September. Jammeh said last month he opposed the coalition.
Still, the alliance has raised concerns that Jammeh could avoid prosecution despite the creation of a commission to demand justice for atrocities committed under his rule. The former leader, who claimed to be able to cure AIDS and infertility, seized control in a 1994 coup and isolated his regime by pledging to kill homosexuals, silencing dissent and withdrawing from the Commonwealth.
“We are in alliance with APRC based on principles,” Barrow said Thursday. “The alliance is in the best interest of this country, it is in the best interest of the national security, and reconciliation.”
His main rival, Ousainou Darboe, representing the United Democratic Party, filed his candidacy earlier this week. Darboe, who was removed as vice president in March 2019, has contested and lost in four previous presidential elections.
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