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Gambian President Wins Re-Election


Sealed ballot boxes are seen after closure of the polling station in Serrekunda during the presidential elections, November 24, 2011

Sealed ballot boxes are seen after closure of the polling station in Serrekunda during the presidential elections, November 24, 2011

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has won re-election in a poll that has been condemned by the region's main economic bloc.

Election officials announced Friday that Mr. Jammeh had won with 72 percent of the vote. Main opposition leader Ousainu Darboe came in second with 17 percent and independent candidate Hamat Bah took 10 percent.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said this week the vote cannot be considered fair, citing alleged intimidation of voters and ruling party control of the media.

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (2nd R) leaves a polling station after casting his ballot in the presidential elections in Banjul (File)

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (2nd R) leaves a polling station after casting his ballot in the presidential elections in Banjul (File)

On Thursday, Mr. Jammeh said voters would elect him to a new five-year term based on his record since taking power in a coup 17 years ago. He said he has accomplished more than the British did during 400 years of colonialism.

The president's supporters say he has helped improve the country's infrastructure, education and health care. But his critics say Gambia is still deep in poverty. They accuse the president of being responsible for killings and torture, and stifling political dissent and press freedoms.

The head of Gambia's election commission has rejected the criticism from ECOWAS. Mustapha Carayol said Thursday that each party campaigned freely and there was no intimidation.

Gambian opposition presidential candidate Ousainou Darboe (File)

Gambian opposition presidential candidate Ousainou Darboe (File)

Opposition candidate Ousainu Darboe said Gambians are disenchanted with Mr. Jammeh and are ready for change.

Gambia uses a unique voting method in which voters drop a marble into a drum representing their candidate. The system was devised to circumvent the West African country's high illiteracy rate.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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