Exit polls in The Gambia’s presidential race are giving the opposition coalition’s Adama Barrow a narrow lead ahead of incumbent President Yahya Jammeh of the APRC. It is the first time that exit polls in this West African nation is giving an opposition presidential hopeful a lead.
President Yahya Jammeh has said no election, military or foreign power can make him relinquish power. If he loses the elections, will Jammeh refuse to leave is the question that many are asking.
The Red Cross said violence is likely to occur in a dozen key cities and armed military men were sighted in the streets.
President Yahya Jammeh has ruled The Gambia with an iron-fist and commanded one of Africa’s most repressive regime. In April, he called the opposition “a group of dogs” in whose hands he will not leave The Gambia in.
Jammeh has accused the U.S. of creating the country’s main opposition party, which is the party of the main challenger, backed by seven opposition parties. Jammeh has accused the UDP of trying to use the right to protest as a disguise to organize an Arab Spring-type revolution to oust him.
In the run-up to the polls, Jammeh warned that post-electoral protests, including peaceful demonstration, will not be allowed.
In April and May, security forces brutally suppressed an opposition protest using live rounds and teargas. At least two people have died. A senior opposition member that led the initial protest was tortured to death and another died after being denied urgent medical care.
Observers say Jammeh may likely insist on having a vote recount or forcing the opposition to go through the courts to validate the votes as a delay mechanism. Analysts warn the opposition will protest if Jammeh refuses to step down if the electoral commission declares Barrow the winner and without proper counsel, Jammeh may result to the use of force to remain in power.
The Gambia’s military chief, Ousman Bargie said the army is neutral, but the neutrality has been put into question after he promised to maintain peace and order after receiving 14 vehicles from Mr. Jammeh a day before the presidential elections.
Gambian authorities have always used the premise of national security to suppress freedoms and liberties and a crackdown on dissenting voices, especially Jammeh’s political opponents.
A dictator anywhere in the world has never lost in an election. Gambia will set a precedent if that happens. What is true as well is that a dictator will never concede. If it Jammeh does, it will be unprecedented.