ECOWAS has for the second time boycotted The Gambia’s presidential polls. The absence of the regional body and the denial of observer status to the European Union has signaled that elections may be rigged or polls will not be free or fair.
This fear amid reports of voter fraud and possible post-electoral violence has been compounded by the shutting of the country’s international communication gateway including the internet and the closing of the country’s borders with neighboring Senegal.
Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh has vowed not to step down. Last week, Jammeh said no election, military or foreign power can make him relinquish the presidency. This “billion years” president who has ruled for 22 years said no protests will be allowed after results are announced.
The military has already been dispatched, patrolling the streets with rifles. Opposition supporters said the intimidation will not deter them from going to the polls, but experts say it may force many in rural Gambia, where the opposition has huge support to stay home.
The opposition coalition’s presidential hopeful Adama Barrow urged the AU observers to be neutral, but beyond anything, the elections seem to be far from being free or fair and the opposition will have to stretch all its resources to have a resounding victory.
With AU being the only observers and with so many not having confidence in the continental body, a shadow of doubt has been cast on opposition chance of winning.