The Gambia heads to the polls on Saturday December 4th in the first post Jammeh elections marking the countrys new democracy after a prolonged dictatorship.
Five Candidates with significant political pedigree are vying to unseat the incumbent President Adama Barrow and form the next government. They include long time leading opposition figure ANM Ousainu Darboe who presents what is by far the most organised political formation challenging for the presidency with a five point manifesto that essentially covers the country’s development needs from economic growth to youth employment and women’s empowerment.
Darboe also brings unprecedented numbers and the biggest opposition for the incumbent ahead of the vote with a reformed UDP expanding its campaign effort via open platforms strongly poised for a robust contest in Satudays polls.
Staunch Socialist and PDOIS Leader Halifa Sallah is another candidate whose well thought development programs and growing support among youths promises greater inclusion for the Gambia. At the peak of his political journey, the PDOIS Leader is a strong contender for the nations top job with the party hoping to upset its poor run in Gambian elections through targeted campaigning increasing its nationwide canvassing for votes among the electorate.
Independent Candidate and celebrated counsel Essa Mbai Faal who made a name in the country’s transitional justice process and truth commission is another robust contender with massive support among young electorates that could tip the scale in his favor. Mr Faal who is campaigning on the ills and shortcomings of the current adminstration believes his entry into the political spectrum at a crucial national moment of truth after a difficult dictatorship could swing the tide towards change as Gambians move to seek justice and growth in the post Jammeh era.
Former Parliamentarian and Political firebrand Mama Kandeh who succeeded in striking a coalition with a much weakened and divided APRC Party also strikes a challenging chord ahead of the polls with most Jammeh loyalists preferring his camp to the incumbents NPP. A rousing campaign anchored on development pragmatism also makes Mr. Kandeh a massive favourite among rural electorates who benefitted vastly from his support programs easing access to basic services such as water and farming implements. Mr Kandeh pulled record numbers in his first elections in 2016 and a continuation of that trend could cause a major upset for the incumbent.
Political Newcomer Abdoulie Ebrima Jammeh whose National Unity Party is the newest member of the country’s political arena comes with a resounding message of inclusive development and growth that vastly refreshes the party political spectrum and race for the statehouse. A young and vibrant candidate with all the right educational credentials, Jammeh, a former aviationist and one time Director of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority brings immense leverage to the race with a campaign focusing on the many ills derailing sustainable advancement in the Gambia.
The compostion of hopefuls makes the 2021 polls a defining moment for the country with candidates mostly running on well thought out ideals and manifestos that promise stronger socioeconomic growth, inclusion and justice for a citizenry still facing the lowest depths of under development, institutional weakness and some of the worst growth prospects in Africa’s Sahel.
But nothing is an easy task in Africa’s tiniest nation where inadequate infrastructure and health services, meagre social protection, deepening poverty and erratic electricity supply alongside water constrains and a dimming outlook for young people continues to contradict development programs driven since 1965 to uplift the Gambia from extreme underdevelopment.
Consequently, the next government must be ready to take on development deficits that have stayed unresolved for 56 years, under three adminstrations that have in toto achieved decent advances but have largely left the Gambia’s prospect’s dimmer as ever.