By: Foday Manneh
The citizens of The Gambia are determined and persistent to cast their votes on Saturday, May 20, 2023, which marks the final phase of the 2021/2023 electoral cycle to elect new Mayors and Chairpersons in the Local Government elections across the country.
A day before the election is traditionally considered a cooling off from the political voter canvass.
The Alkamba Times ( TAT) gauges the mood of the state of preparation for the Gambian voter populace ahead of Saturday’s election amidst calls for an improvement in the voter turnout compared to the last councilors” election in April, which was considered “unsatisfactory” to observers.
A resident of London Corner, Serekunda, Lamin Dibba, said he is optimistic that there will be a large voter turnout in the Mayoral and Chairmanship elections, saying the magnitude of competition shown amongst candidates would greatly encourage people to go out and cast their votes.
“This time, it would be different. The political tempo has been high between the candidates and cannot be predicted unless we vote. I am certain that people will vote in numbers. The votes can only determine the winner,” Dibba said.
Haddy Saine, a resident of Bakoteh who is a vendor at the Serekunda Market, called on all the candidates and their supporters to maintain the peace they have undertaken throughout the campaign period. She called for tolerance from all various camps for the sake of free and fair elections to take place.
Thirty-two contesting candidates are vying for the Mayoral and Chairperson seats nationwide; among them are the ruling National People’s Party (NPP), the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), GFA, PDOIS, PPP, GDC, and several independent candidates.
According to a projection made by the Centre for Policy, Research, and Strategic Studies (CepRass) from an opinion poll reported that the UDP candidate, Talib Ahmed Bensouda, would likely win in Kanifing (55% support), candidates from the NPP demonstrated strong support in various regions including Basse, Janjanbureh, and Kuntaur.
The report also suggests that a significant percentage of respondents (19% to 42%) could not predict the likely winners in their respective LGAs, indicating uncertainty and indecision among voters.
In Mansakonko, the UDP’s Landing Sanneh leads at 32%, followed by NPP’s Kebba Dem at 28%. However, the remaining percentage of voters are either undecided or prefer to keep the secret of their candidates.
Meanwhile, in Brikama, nearly half (48%) of the respondents are undecided or prefer to keep their intentions secret. NPP’s Seedy Ceesay leads the rest of the candidates, with 21% of the respondents intending to vote for him, followed by UDP’s Yankuba Darboe (19%). The Independent candidates do not pull over 5% of the intention to vote.
More or less, a similar story exists in Banjul, with 52% either undecided or preferring to keep their choice anonymous. In comparison, 26% of the remaining 48 intend to vote for UDP’s Rohey Malick Lowe, and 23% want to cast for NPP’s Ebou Faye.
Meanwhile, political scientists earlier predicted that the results of the councilor’s election in April, which the ruling NPP narrowly dominated, would significantly impact tomorrow’s results despite the uncertainty in some regions.
The Gambia Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) registered 962,157 voters, less than a quarter of which voted in the councilors’ elections. However, there are hopes of improving the voter turnout come tomorrow when polls are opened for voting.
Meanwhile, the country’s electoral commission has urged people to turn out in large numbers to vote for their candidate while maintaining peace.