Gambia presidential election

  • No, CSO Coalition on Election did not deploy over 700 observers

    Claim: A Facebook post by What’s On Gambia says The CSO Coalition on Election Situation Room declared the election was free, fair and transparent. The chairman of the group is quoted to have said: “We had over 700 observers; we did not receive any report of malpractices.”

    Screenshot of the claim

    Verdict: Partly True

    Verification: Yes, it is true that the CSO Coalition on Election (CCE) declared the election free, fair and transparent. This was disclosed at a press conference organized by the CSO Coalition on Election at Coco Ocean Hotel.

    It is however false that the CCE chairman said 700 observers were deployed by the group. 

    “The 700 observers are inaccurate. 150 from the CSO Coalition plus 26 from the National Human Rights Commission which makes it 176. The two were sharing reports,” Lamin Jahateh, Program Manager at the Gambia Press Union and an official at the Situation room told Dubawa.

  • Gambia Election 2021 Live Fact-Check – Day 2

    Read Day 1 of the live fact-check of the 2021 Gambian Election here

    • Claim: A Twitter user, terry manners (@TelBabe), says The Gambian voters who have smartphones voted under the ‘Marble’ app, while others who do not, cast their vote with marbles in yesterday’s election.

    Manners’ bio indicates he is a former Editor of Express in Scotland, Assistant Editor London; Editor of Western Daily Press and is the author of seven books.

    False

    Verification: According to the IEC, all eligible voters voted with marbles/tokens. This is different from the ‘Marble’ app. The app is a digital tool developed by the election observer group, Gambia Participates, to “ease access to credible election information.”

    “You cannot vote with the Marble app. It is not even provided for,” Annetta Mahoney, Programme Officer at Gambia Participates told Dubawa.

    According to Gambia Participates, “The Marble mobile application, named for the marble stone used in elections in The Gambia since independence in 1965, is a digital tool created in 2018 to provide up-to-date, timely and accurate election information to [voters] to promote election transparency and accountability. The application is intended to be used to inform and educate people on elections in general.”


    • Claim: A picture in circulation says that the candidates of Independent, GDC, and UDP were in a meeting at the residence of Lawyer Darboe to present joint-party evidence of electoral fraud presented by the IEC in favour of Adama Barrow of the NPP. It further stated that Hon. Halifa Sallah of the PDOIS and Abdoulie Jammeh of the NUP are also on their way to Mr. Darboe’s house to mount a joint challenge of what they call the most fraudulent election.

    Partly true 

    Verification: It is true that the candidates of the Independent Essa Mbye Faal, GDC Mama Kandeh, and UDP Ousainou Darboe, held a press conference to express their displeasure with the election results. What is not true is that Hon. Halifa Sallah and Abdoulie Jammeh were on their way to the meeting. Dubawa put a call through to Hon. Halifa, who says his party is an organised political party, and if they are not satisfied with the election results, they will organise their own press conference. He also added that he has not been seen on TV attending any press conference and expressed his utmost displeasure at the accusations.


    • Claim: A viral video purportedly shows PDOIS candidate, Halifa Sallah, accepting the results so far declared by the IEC. 

    “Counting was done on the spot and all sides knew the results before the IEC. So if there are technicalities, they are just technicalities but the fact is already known. We are confident that those facts are incontestable and it is incontrovertible as far as we are concerned that the president-elect, Barrow, won,”

    Mr Sallah said in the video.

    False

    Verification: Dubawa found the video on YouTube through a Yandex search. We found one posted in 2017 by R Dee with the caption “Halifa Sallah on yaya jammeh’s speak”.

    PDOIS has debunked the claim. The party said the video is from 2016 and is unrelated to this year’s election.

    Furthermore, Jaha Dukureh, the co-chair of the Youth Interparty Committee of the PDOIS says the video is dated. 

    “The video is from the 2016 presidential election. Halifa Sallah did not publish any statement or video pertaining to the current occurrence,” she said.


    • Claim: A Facebook post by What’s On Gambia says The CSO Coalition on Election Situation Room declared the election was free, fair and transparent. The chairman of the group is quoted to have said: “We had over 700 observers; we did not receive any report of malpractices.”

    Verdict: Partly True

    Verification: Yes, it is true that the CSO Coalition on Election (CCE) declared the election free, fair and transparent. This was disclosed at a press conference organized by the CSO Coalition on Election at Coco Ocean Hotel.

    It is however false that the CCE chairman said 700 observers were deployed by the group. 

    “The 700 observers are inaccurate. 150 from the CSO Coalition plus 26 from the National Human Rights Commission which makes it 176. The two were sharing reports,” Lamin Jahateh, Program Manager at the Gambia Press Union and an official at the Situation room told Dubawa.

  • Gambia Election 2021 Live Fact-Check – Day 1

    • Claim: A viral WhatsApp message says ‘‘IEC is barring people without masks from voting.’’ 

    True

    Verification: Observers at Kerewan and Bakau confirmed that some voters were prevented from voting for not wearing face masks. However, the IEC Director of Communication, Pa Makan Khan, says it has not come to his attention. 

    He said the wearing of face masks is a preventive measure to curb the spread of COVID-19. Polling agents are advised to enforce the measures but should not deter anyone without a face mask from their constitutional right of voting.

    • Claim: A Facebook post by Barrow Media Empowerment claims someone has closed the NPP  ballot drum, urging  IEE to take immediate action. 

    Mostly False. 

    Verification: According to Amie Singhateh, a constituency supervisor at Serekunda, nothing of such happened at the polling stations under her watch. Efforts to get comments from an IEC executive on the situation have been unsuccessful as they were unavailable to confirm or deny the situation. In addition, there wasn’t a specific polling station mentioned in the post to enable us track

    • Claim: A Facebook post by Barrow Media Empowerment claims that a popular Imam in The Gambia, Sheikh Imam Abdoulah Fatty, has warned Gambians against voting for the UDP.

    False

    Verification: Sheikh Imam Abdoulah Fatty has denied the claim.

    “I didn’t make no such statement,” he told Dubawa.

    He referred us to an audio he has released debunking the viral claim. Further analysis of the shared audio post shows the voice is not that of Imam Fatty.

    • Claim: An image in circulation with the name Kingsport claims the Director of Immigration, Mr. Touray, has sent a verbal order to the security officers stationed at border posts to leave the borders open and allow people to come in and out of the Gambia. 

    False

    Verification: The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Immigration, Mamanding S. Dibba, says the Director-General of the Gambia Immigration Department has not given such an order. 

    ‘‘I am not aware of any such directive issued by the DG. It is very funny news to me really,’’ he told Dubawa. 

    He appealed to the security officers to continue their work and strictly guard the borders.

    • Viral audios claim the ballot drums of the UDP and NPP candidates, Ousainou Darboe and Adama Barrow, respectively, have been filled to capacity in some polling stations and have had to be replaced. One of such audios claims that the Upper Badibou Constituency Chairman, Lamin Bakotong Marong, said: “The UDP ballot drum was filled to capacity and was placed aside. A new one was placed in which people are voting.” 

    False

    Verification: The spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Pa Makan Khan says this is impossible. 

    “To fill the ballot drum, you need over 10,000 marbles. This cannot be filled because we don’t have that number at a polling centre,” he said.

    • Social media users claim voting is still underway (at about 10:27pm Saturday night) in Sukuta despite the official closing of polling stations at 5 pm across the country.

    True 

    Verification: Observers at Election Watch confirmed to Dubawa that voting is still ongoing in Sukuta. According to the group, a number of voters were still in the queue at the official closing time. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) regulations stipulate that voters in the queue at 5:00pm must be allowed to cast their ballot.

    • Claim: A Facebook post shared about five hours ago, claims UDP are “occupying [the] IEC building to stop counting”.

    False

    Verification: Journalists, Yankuba Jallow and Kemi Busari, who have been at the IEC since yesterday say at no time did this happen. 

  • COVID-19: IEC to ensure the safety of voters on election day

    The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it has put in place measures to protect voters against the COVID-19 in today’s elections. 

    “As per the WHO protocol, we provide gloves for all our staff that would be at the various polling stations on the election day. We provide hand sanitisers and make sure that every voter is sanitized before entering the voting grounds. We also urge everyone to put on their mask when coming to vote so as to curb the spread of the Coronavirus,” the Direct of communication at IEC, Pa Makhan Khan told Dubawa on Thursday.

    He urged all eligible voters to put on face masks and abide by the WHO protocols to help curb the spread of the Coronavirus.

    Mr Khan further indicated that special provisions have been put in place to enable persons living with disabilities and the elderly to vote without any challenges.

    “Priorities will be given to persons living with disabilities, they are not allowed to queue in any circumstances and in any polling stations, they should go and vote as soon as they arrive without any issue,” he said.

    The Gambia is voting today December 4 to elect a president, the first since former President Yahya Jammeh lost power in 2016. Six candidates have been approved by the IEC to contest in the elections and a total of 962,157 people have been confirmed by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as qualified voters in the presidential election.

  • The Gambia Elections 2021: How To Vote On Election Day

    As Gambians prepare for the Presidential Elections scheduled to hold on the 4th of December 2021, many voters in the country have indicated their readiness for it. 

    Section 26 of the 1997 Constitution gives every Gambian 18 years of age and above and also of sound mind, the right to participate in elections (Presidential, National Assembly and Local Government Elections) when one has acquired a voter’s card through registration.

    According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), a total of 962,157 voters registered for this year’s elections.

    Ahead of the elections on Saturday, it is prudent that voters are reminded about the voting procedures on election day. 

    A citizen must first fulfil some requirements, including the following, in order to be able to exercise their franchise:

    1. Be in possession of a Gambian voters card
    2. Present oneself at the right polling station
    3. Must have one’s name on the register
    4. Must not be of unsound mind
    5. Must not be in a state of inebriation.

    On election day, a voter must identify the candidate he or she wants to vote for and this, it is advised, must be based on strong grounds such as believing in the party or the candidate’s program, competency, unblemished character and leadership skills, if given the opportunity to serve. For candidates vying for another term, what the leader has achieved during his tenure is also worthy of consideration. 

    Where And When To Vote On Election Day

    Voters can only vote in the constituency where they registered during the voter registration exercise. A voter will not be allowed to vote anywhere else. 

    According to the IEC, polls open at 8 am and close at 5 pm on election day across the country, after which, counting begins in the presence of party and polling agents. However, the polls may either close earlier if all the voters allotted to a polling station are identified to have voted, or close later if there are still voters in the queue after 6 pm.

    Special Arrangements for Special Needs

    Section 67 of the Gambia Elections Act also makes provision for priority to be given to the candidates contesting the elections to cast their ballots. 

    Dubawa spoke to an IEC official, Elizabeth Jarjou, who stated that it is mandatory from the IEC that pregnant women, nursing mothers, the elderly and people living with disabilities are also given priority to vote (with their consent) without having them join long queues.

    The Voting Process

    The voting process involves the use of ink and marble. 

    The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has stipulated some steps to go through to cast one’s ballot.

    First, the voter’s name and information on their voter’s card will be checked against the voters’ list in that constituency by the Assistant Presiding Officer (APO).  Voters who are under query will be referred to the Presiding Officer.

    If matches are confirmed, the voter’s thumb will be dipped into the indelible ink to ensure that they have been identified as eligible to vote. 

    The Presiding Officer will then check their finger and hand them a marble/token to dump in a candidate’s ballot box. Ballot boxes are labelled with candidates’ pictures for easy identification. 

    Once a citizen votes, a sound will pop that confirms that the vote has been cast. 

    A voter enters a voting booth alone and discreetly, except in the case of the visually impaired or disabled and the aged who are accompanied by a guide. 

    The procedure for voting is based on the provisions of the Elections Act.

  • #GambiaDecides2021: The six candidates seeking to be Gambia’s president in Saturday’s election

    On Saturday, December 4, the people of Gambia will go to the polls to elect their president.

    In the election, Gambian President Adama Barrow will face five challengers in the first voting exercise since the exiled former leader Yahya Jammeh fled the country after refusing to accept defeat five years ago.

    Last month, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the country’s electoral umpire, announced that 15 presidential candidates were rejected while another six others, including Mr Barrow, were approved to contest.

    Makan Khan, the spokesperson for the IEC, said that most of the rejected applications did not meet the constitutional requirements, with the most common problem being voters’ failure to comply with the sponsorship requirement. Article 47 of the electoral code stipulates that each candidate must submit a sponsorship list made up of at least 200 registered voters in each constituency but Khan said eight of the rejected applications were submitted by independent candidates.

    Apart from the incumbent president Adama Barrow from the National People’s Party (NPP), other candidates in Saturday’s election are Ousainou Darboe from the United Democratic Party (UDP), Mama Kandeh from the Gambia Democratic Congress, and Halifa Sallah from the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS).

    Others are Essa Mbaye Faal, an Independent, and Abdoulie Ebrima Jammeh of the National Unity Party (NUP).

    The electoral contest is expected to be peaceful, according to polls and media reports, although there are concerns about the image of the ousted president Yahya Jammeh looming large over the elections.

    Mr Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994 to assume power as chairman of the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) and later as president, ruling for 22 years, until 2016 when he was defeated by Mr Barrow. Following the defeat and resulting reactions, Mr Jammeh had to leave The Gambia on exile to Equatorial Guinea in January 2020.

    Mr Barrow, a product of a coalition of seven political parties, was meant to govern for three years, as agreed by the coalition, but midway decided to complete his tenure and now seeks re-election.

    PREMIUM TIMES presents the candidates and how they stand.

    Adama Barrow

    Mr Barrow’s fate at the polls will be determined by the peoples’ verdict on his success or otherwise in dragging the country out of the Yahya Jammeh era. Mr Jammeh’s era was characterised by crackdowns on political opponents, fear, widespread corruption, extra-judicial executions, detentions without trial, and media harassment.

    Media reports said human rights has improved enormously under Mr Barrow, but as the incumbent president, he has so much to defend in terms of his leadership records. There have been concerns over rising crime and poor electricity and internet networks in the country.

    President Adama Barrow of Gambia

    Mr Barrow’s most significant worry, according to many political pundits, is in the area of trust: he initially said he would only serve as a transitional leader for three years but he can now run for as long as he likes.

    Last year, a bill to limit presidents to two terms failed to pass.

    Again, Mr Barrow recently signed a controversial electoral pact with the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), the party formed by Mr Jammeh in 1996. Many have expressed fears that the pact may ease the return of Mr Jammeh. Others have said that it might as well undermine the work of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission established in 2018 to investigate human rights violations under the Jammeh presidency.

    Despite all of these issues, 56-year-old Mr Barrow is still widely considered the shoo-in.

    On its website, Mr Barrow’s party, NPP, listed as its core areas of intervention: health, education, agriculture, economy, infrastructure, women and youth.

    Ousainou Darboe

    73-year-old Mr Darboe was widely considered the face of opposition politics in Gambia. As the leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the country’s largest opposition political force, he was a thorn in the flesh of the Jammeh government for decades.

    He was, however, detained by the Jammeh government after one death was recorded during a protest. He was eventually sentenced to three years in prison.

    Ousainou Darboe. [PHOTO CREDIT: The Voice of Gambia]

    When Mr Barrow was sworn in as president after the exit of Mr Jammeh, Mr Darboe served as foreign minister and one of the three vice presidents in the Barrow government.

    Things fell apart between both men in March 2019 and he was sacked.

    In Saturday’s election, aside from the incumbent, he is widely considered the strongest contender for the presidential seat. He is also the oldest candidate seeking votes in a country with a significant youthful voting population.

    In his party manifesto titled ‘Justice, peace, progress’, he hopes to prioritise youth employment and empowerment, education, nutrition, agriculture and food security. He promised to ‘establish a youth entrepreneurship fund’ and ‘award 25 per cent or more of government contracts and projects to young people and youth enterprises.

    Mama Kandeh

    Mama Kandeh is the leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC). He recently signed a controversial MoU with supporters of ex-president Yahya Jammeh.

    Amid criticism, he said in October that the MoU does not include an amnesty for Mr Jammeh.

    Mr Kandeh, born in 1965, has equally had to refute allegations that he was put up by former President Jammeh. In 2016, Mr Kandeh came third, with 17.1 per cent of the votes cast in the presidential polls, behind Mr Barrow and Mr Jammeh

    Mama Kandeh. [PHOTO CREDIT: Wikipedia]

    He was a former APRC stalwart until his expulsion after which he formed the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC).

    Mr Kandeh’s candidacy was initially contested on the ground that he never attended high school but the IEC in November approved his candidacy.

    Key manifesto points include quality education, environmental protection, local governance autonomy among others.

    Halifa Sallah

    Halifa Sallah, 68, is a Gambian opposition leader and candidate of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), a party he co-founded in 1986. He is also one of the main figures in the opposition coalition National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD).

    Earlier in June 2005, along with the other three opposition MPs, Mr Sallah was expelled from the National Assembly on the grounds of dual party membership. NADD had been registered as a political party and the Supreme Court of The Gambia judged that it went against the Gambian Constitution to belong to two parties at the same time. Consequently, a by-election was held and Mr Sallah was reelected.

    Halifa Sallah. [PHOTO CREDIT: Voice of Gambia]

    As a respected opposition voice, Mr Sallah is also in the race for the presidential seat.

    With deep-rooted socialist ideology, the PDOIS in its manifesto tagged ‘transformative agenda’ hopes for a system change through seven core areas; ‘political, economic, social, civil, cultural, ecological and external relations pillars of development.’

    Currently a member of The Gambian parliament representing Serekunda Central constituency, Mr Sallah is the Leader of the opposition in the National Assembly.

    Abdoulie Ebrima Jammeh

    Born in 1969, Abdoulie Jammeh was in August announced as the standard-bearer of the National Unity Party (NUP) for the election. In announcing Abdoulie Jammeh’s candidacy, the NUP noted it reached the decision ‘following a vigorous and thorough search for a competent and passionate Presidential candidate in recent months.’ A former Managing Director of The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), he was once arrested and detained on the order of his namesake, former President Yahya Jammeh, for not properly maintaining the presidential fleet.

    In a 24-page manifesto, the presidential candidate noted his vision was to ‘induce a sustained socio-economic transformation in The Gambia based on the principles of democracy, equality, justice, and the promotion of social cohesion to foster and maintain national unity.’ The NUP has promised that its candidates would only be able to seek re-election once according to party rules.

    Essa Mbaye Faal

    Essa Mbye Faal recently resigned his position as the lead prosecutor of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission to contest as an independent candidate. He is an international lawyer who until recently was the chief prosecutor of the TRRC.

    Essa Mbaye Faal. [PHOTO CREDIT: Voice of Gambia]
    Essa Mbaye Faal. [PHOTO CREDIT: Voice of Gambia]

    Being the only independent candidate at the election, Essa Faal will hope to repeat the feat attained by Mr Barrow in the 2016 election. Born in 1966, Mr Faal is an international lawyer who served as chief prosecutor on The Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), a commission set up by President Barrow to investigate the 22-year rule of his predecessor. If elected, Mr Faal hopes to run an inclusive government in a bid to set the country off corruption, promote economic development and infrastructural transformation.

    “The first 100 days in office will set the tone, pace and work ethic for the presidency. We will listen to all political parties, stakeholders and development partners on specific programme, project and activities, but ‘we shall start by implementing a portfolio of activities, to pave the way for the transformative National Turn Around,” he told journalists in November.

    Like Ebrima Jammeh, political pundits have said that Mr Faal is not expected to pose any serious threat to the leading contenders on Saturday.

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