Monday, October 31, 2016

Gambian Opposition UDP Leader Elected Alliance Candidate

Opposition Alliance Candidate
Adama Barrow
After a long convention at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Banjul, Adama Barrow, the leader of Gambia's largest opposition party the UDP, has been elected as the opposition parties alliance candidate to face incumbent Yahya Jammeh in elections scheduled for the end of the year.

Yahya Jammeh of the APRC party has ruled Gambia both as a military and civilian leader since 1994. He has won every election held in the country since he declared a second republic after a few years of military rule.

Adama Barrow was recently elected to head the UDP after the incarceration of veteran UDP leader Ousainou Darboe.  Mr. Darboe, a lawyer, was jailed earlier this year for leading public protests against the government of Yahya Jammeh.

Barrow was the youngest of the four candidates and also the one with the least political experience.  He however largely benefited from the UDP legacy and was a clear winner over veteran Gambian politicians like Hamat Bah and Halifa Sallah.

Under the alliance agreement, the flagbearer candidate will stand as an independent candidate, while all the other Presidential aspirants are expected to  withdraw from the race and give him both their support and the support of their party machinery. The alliance will rule for about three years and then arrange elections in the country after ensuring a level playing field for all political parties.

Some Gambians on social media were disappointed that a more experience and articulate candidate was not elected, as Adama Barrow, a poor public speaker, visibly struggled during the convention to articulate his party position. He kept reading his written speech without looking at the delegates in the hall.

Halifa Sallah and Hamat Bah on the other hand were very articulate and stated their political positions very clearly. However, Mr. Barrow whose party has a lot of support in the rural areas of the country, won by more than 60% of the votes in the first round.

The other political parties have promised to support the alliance candidate. In the past, other attempts to form an alliance have  been unsuccessful.

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