The Gambians head to the polls today December 1, however, it’s being reported that internet was shut down on November 30th.
An AFP journalist reported that internet was down from around 20:15 on the eve of the election. Whatsapp, Skype and Viber were unreachable without a Virtual Private Network (VPN) software many Gambians use to work around the problem.
Rights group have accused the government of suppressing human rights and freedoms due to the shut-down of the country’s internet on the eve of the elections.
President Yahya Jammeh is running for his fifth term, having ruled the Gambia for the past 22 years. President Jammeh faces two opponents, Adama Barrow, who was picked by seven opposition parties who came together for the first time to form a coalition after many opposition leaders were jailed earlier this year. Barrow will run independently as their flag bearer.
The other candidate is Mama Kandeh, a former member of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party, rumoured to be set up by the main party to derail the votes for the opposition. Kandeh will be representing the Gambian Democratic Congress (GDC) party.
At his final rally, President Jammeh warned that protests of any sort regarding the result of the elections will not be tolerated as he proposed to develop the Gambia better than it has in the past 22 years.
He added that there would be no reason for protests due to the Gambia’s unique voting system which requires every voter to drop a marble in their preferred candidate’s “poll drum.”
The Gambia raised eyebrows when it was revealed that there will be no professional international election observers present. Although, there will be some observers from the African union.
Amnesty International nonetheless urged the authorities to ensure that this election period is “held in a climate that is free from violence and which fully respects the right of all people to freely express their views.”
The polling stations which open at 8:00 am will see more than 880,000 Gambians throng the polling stations as they decided the next direction of the western African country.
The winner of Gambia’s election will serve a five-year term.