Opposition groups in The Gambia on Sunday are selecting a presidential candidate to lead a coalition to challenge President Yahya Jammeh in the West African nation’s December general elections.
Jammeh, 51, has ruled the small nation that is a holiday destination for British and Scandinavian tourists during the winter, famous for the golden beaches on his short Atlantic coastline.
Opposition parties in The Gambia have been divided for long and since Jammeh came to power in a military coup in 1994, political leaders found it difficult to unite. A 2006 attempt by opposition groups failed and talks have since stalled, giving Jammeh a landslide victory with 72 percent of the votes.
“A coalition has always been demanded by the Gambian people,” said parliamentarian Samba Jallow. “We must unite. All these candidates are better than President Yahya Jammeh. We must salvage our country and make the people unite.”
The Gambia has eight presidential candidates with an independent presidential hopeful. A new opposition group, GDC has declined to join the coalition.
Unity talks have been ongoing since April and opposition groups agreed to a convention to select a coalition candidate earlier this month.
President Yahya Jammeh has vowed to stay in power for a billion years and if a coalition is presented, he may be facing the toughest challenge to his 22-year rule. Jammeh came to power in a bloodless coup in 1994 and has since ruled with an iron fist.