Opposition rejects Gambia's election results as president nears victory

Opposition candidates are rejecting Gambia’s election results as the incumbent president nears victory, pointing to delays in counting the votes.

“We are concerned that there had been an inordinate delay in the announcement of results,” candidates Ousainou Darbo, Mama Kandeh and Essa Mbye Faal wrote in a statement on Sunday, according to Reuters.

“A number of issues have been raised by our party agents and representatives at the polling stations,” they added.

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Gambia President Adama Barrow led the polls as of Sunday with roughly 54 percent of the vote from 50 of 53 constituencies, according to Reuters.

The country held its election on Saturday, marking the first time in 27 years that Gambians voted in a race in which former President Yahya Jammeh was not on the ballot, Reuters noted.

Jammeh is living in exile in Equatorial Guinea after he declined to accept an election loss to Barrow in 2016, according to Reuters. His 22-year tenure in Gambia’s leadership was reportedly marked by killings and the torture of political opponents.

The ex-president reportedly tried to tip the scale in Saturday’s race by encouraging supporters through telephoned speeches to support an opposition coalition. Those speeches were then passed on during campaign rallies.

Earlier on Sunday, representatives from all the opposition parties had reportedly signed off on the voter rolls for the election which had already been read to the election commission, but they then released a statement later in the day objecting to the results.

Darboe, who signed on to the statement objecting to the results, was closest behind Barrow in the tally, Reuters noted.

The COVID-19 pandemic dominated Barrow’s first term in office, which had an adverse effect on an economy that is dependent on tourism and the selling of peanuts and fish, according to the news wire.