Although electoral chief, Alieu Mommar Njai warned against the suggestion that there are coalition candidates, but Gambians are confused about who to really vote for being taken aback by disunity in the coalition that brought President Adama Barrow to power.
Political parties that united to back Barrow split and pitched candidates against one another. None of the individual parties could have defeated Yahya Jammeh or win a majority in parliament on their own.Unarguably, Barrow would not have won the presidency running under a particular party ticket.
So, the people of the Gambia do not understand the reason for the disunity and confused about who to vote for in districts were coalition parties put up candidates against one another.
“I don’t still understand why party leaders let this happen,” said one Gambian, Ebrima Jobe, shaking his head. He said he was disheartened that after all the efforts to form a coalition to end Jammeh’s rule, the parties are acting in a way that could threaten the future that Gambians wanted.
Isatou Jarjue, a market vendor, agreed. “I am confused by the lack of unity,” she said, adding that only prayers could help the coalition parties emerge victorious in the National Assembly polls.
Gambians are still transioning into their new found democracy and freedom. Many are still voting based on party lines, mostly for whoever the president favors, and not on ideology or policy.
With Barrow being an independent under the coalition, he had to resign from the UDP and could not publicly endorse its candidates, trying to keep his government united.
Barrow is hoping that those that will back his policies win a majority. He needs to deliver on his campaign promises and to unite the deeply divided nation.
Clashes between the former regime’s supporters and those that voted for Barrow’s unity government has been on the rise ahead of Thursday’s elections. Some of them were not reported in the local press.
The country’s electoral body has endorsed 239 candidates who are contesting for 53 seats. Five more will be occupied by parliamentary members the president nominates, including the Speaker of the House.
(Reporting and Writing by Sam Phatey; Additional Reporting from the Washington Post; Editing by Sainey MK Marenah)