Polls have closed across Gambia in what is the country’s first local government election since the shocking defeat of the former dictator Yahya Jammeh.
Eight political parties are battling for 113 seats with several independent candidates in the country’s six regions.
The voter turnout was quite low, presiding officers at various polls have told Kerr Fatou.
“The turnout is very poor because it is very low. At around 11am we ran through the register we found out that it was less than 200 voters. After one hour we went through it and it was around 300 voters. The turnout is below 50% and we saw more women than men. You didn’t turn up impressively and women that came were mainly above 40 years. If you are to compare this election with the national assembly election this was one is poorer,” Kebba Njie, presiding officer at Bundung borehole polling station said.
This year’s scale of contestants is higher than the previous councillorship elections. It has also seen a huge increase of youths and women participation in seeking mandate from people.
The country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has approved the nomination of 409 candidates from different political parties and independents for 120 wards. The Gambia has 886, 578 total registered voters with 1, 422 polling stations across the country, according the electoral body.
Below are the number of candidates vying for ward councillorship for political parties and independents:
– 113 candidates for United Democratic Party (UDP),
– 83 candidates for Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC),
– 63 Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC),
-32 candidates for People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS),
– 25 candidates for National Reconciliation Party (NRP),
– 32 candidates for People’s Progressive Party (PPP),
– 17 candidates for Gambia People’s Democratic Party (GPDP),
– 14 Candidates for Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) and
– 25 independent candidates.
This is the first time council election would be conducted on different dates with mayoral one which is slated for May 12th.
The next month’s voting will also witness the election of the chairmanship positions for the area councils across the country. This position used to be filled by an executive appointment.
Generally, the local government election is not considered important to many Gambians resulting to poor turnout.
However, the recent political landscape seems to be conducive to many people and therefore expectations are high that this year’s turn out would be better than previous ones.
By Mustapha K Darboe