Gambians await presidential result as Barrow seeks second term

Incumbent Adama Barrow is showing an early advantage as Gambians wait to find out the winner of their first presidential election since former strongman Yahya Jammeh fled into exile.

Results from some 15 of the country’s 53 electoral districts have been published online by the state broadcaster since polls closed at 17:00 GMT on Saturday.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital Banjul, says more results are expected in the coming hours.

“Before the end of the day, we will know the winner. A simple majority is enough for any of the six candidates to win,” Idris said.

The election is being closely watched as a test of the democratic transition in The Gambia, where Jammeh ruled for 22 years after seizing power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

Jammeh was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea in January 2017 after Adama Barrow, then a relative unknown, defeated him at the ballot box.

Barrow, 56, faces five challengers in his re-election bid.

Several factors have slowed the tally, including The Gambia’s scarce financial resources, high turnout and the country’s unusual voting system.

Illiteracy is widespread in The Gambia, so voters cast their ballot by dropping a marble into a tub marked with their candidate’s colour and photo – a practice dating back to the country’s past as a British colony.

Many of the roughly one million eligible voters in the nation of more than two million people are hoping for an improvement in their living standards.

Barrow is running on a continuity ticket, pointing to infrastructure projects completed under his watch, as well as increased civil liberties.

Political veteran Ousainou Darboe is considered by observers to be the leading opposition candidate.

The 73-year-old is a lawyer who has represented opponents of Jammeh, and who ran for president against the former strongman several times.

He also served as foreign minister and then vice president under Barrow, before stepping down in 2019.

Jammeh lost to Barrow in the 2016 election but was only finally removed by military intervention from other west African states.

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