President Yahya Jammeh has surprisingly started his campaign and will be touring the country ahead of schedule with some dozen Nigerian actors and actresses as part of his convoy. The Gambian leader who in 2011 did not give any serious thoughts to campaigning facing a divided opposition is already traveling across the country seeking for votes.
Nigerian actress Angela Okorie is among Nollywood celebrities The Gambian leader has been flying in. Okorie posted a video of herself saying she is “on the Gambia presidential tour” with her colleagues.
“He is the man of the people,” said Okorie.
Nollywood celebrities including Francis Nduru faced a backlash after taking undisclosed cash gifts and plots of land from Mr. Jammeh over the years to publicly endorse him.
Jammeh is an overly confident strongman and his decision to hit the road came as a surprise to some who thought he will using his usual rhetoric towards the opposition. Opposition disunity has given Jammeh an easy win. Opposition groups this month rallied behind Adama Barrow to challenge Jammeh in the December 1 general elections. Jammeh’s ruling APRC party has suffered a setback, with a formerly expelled parliamentarian breaking away to form a new opposition group.
Experts say Jammeh is likely to win but not with a lower margin. His candidacy was formalized last week after he presented his nomination documents, 5,000 nomination signatures and 1,400 voters cards to the electoral chairman, Alieu Njie of the Independent Electoral Commission. Njie has promised free and fair polls.
Activists abroad say voter intimidation has started. A former classmate of Jammeh who cross-carpeted to the opposition had been arrested by Gambian authorities and detained in a secret location. At least three journalists have also been arrested including the director of the state’s broadcast network and held since last week.
Jammeh is facing his toughest challenge yet and the opposition says it is hopeful that they will win the polls. Many say they fear violence during the election but Gambians have been active on social media advocating for peaceful polls.