Gambian presidential election

  • 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. 

  • PTCIJ and partners, UNESCO, train Gambian youth leaders on media literacy

    Ahead of the December 4 presidential election, the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) has trained 40 youth community leaders on media and information literacy in The Gambia.

    The three-day training, supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), was held at the Senegambia Beach Hotel from Monday November 29 to Wednesday December 1.

    Welcoming the participants, drawn from youth-centric Civil Society Organisations (CSO), the Acting Executive Director of PTCIJ, Tobi Oluwatola, harped on the importance of media and information literacy in The Gambia’s bid to nurture it’s infant democracy.

     “As The Gambia prepares for its first post-Jammeh general elections seeking to consolidate the country’s nascent democracy, there is a need to enable media users to access and use information prudently. Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is a prerequisite for democratic participation, and preserving freedom of expression,” he said.

    The training featured sessions on democracy and information literacy, freedom of information and expression, fact-checking and verification, internet opportunities and challenges among others.

    At different times, participants were also engaged in group assignments to measure their understanding of the sessions and evaluate plans for propagating knowledge gained.

    Ajie Sonko, the President of The Gambian Ladies Organisation said the training sessions helped her understand the information ecosystem.

    “I have been doing a lot in these sessions we had,” she said. “I have come to know things I never knew. I learnt things like types of information disorder…malinformation, disinformation and misinformation. I think this is very crucial in our environment because information is advancing the world and when there is information disorder in any country, there is no way the country will go forward.”

    Ms Sonko promised to propagate what she learnt to members of her organisation and further.

    “When I go, I’m not going to be selfish and keep what I learnt to myself, I will make sure I teach my organization members what I learnt and not only them, I will do as much as I can to share with my immediate society. Whenever my organization go on rural outreaches, I’ll make sure we teach people on media and information literacy,” she said.

    Similarly, Joe Bongay, the Executive Director of Young Volunteers for the Environment said he has learnt a lot from the sessions.

    “For the past three days, we’ve gotten very good knowledge on fact-checking, how to identify fake news…which is very important for my organisation and in  the process of our development work. Gambia is still transforming gradually and I think this training is timely. It will help to engage as young people in the democratization of The Gambia which is still young. Democracy is still not well understood by many people, this kind of training will help us filter the issue of democracy through communication to the local people and local development partners so as to collectively understand it, respect it and apply it which will help us develop as a nation,” he said.

    The Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland, will on Saturday go to polls to elect a president. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has cleared six candidates for the election, the first since dictator Yahya Jammeh fled the country in 2017.

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