News24

Gambia wraps poll campaign amid boycott

2012-03-27 21:35

Banjul - Gambia wrapped up campaigning ahead of legislative polls on Thursday, with six opposition parties maintaining a boycott after accusing the ruling party of loading the dice.

The election will not take place in 25 of 48 constituencies where parliamentary seats held by the ruling party have gone unopposed due to the boycott, the elections commission said.

The opposition parties said in a statement earlier this month that since the Independent Electoral Commission would not postpone the polls as requested, they had been forced to pull out of the March 29 vote.

They accused the tiny west African country's ruling party of "an abuse of incumbency".

One opposition leader, Hamat Bah, whose party does not currently hold a seat in parliament, rejected the call for a boycott.

The electoral commission however rejected the criticism and said polls would run as scheduled.

The APRC currently holds 47 out of the 53 seats in the assembly, a single-chamber parliament. Five seats are nominated by the president.

The main opposition United Democratic Party has four seats, the National Alliance for Democracy and Development has one, and one seat is held by an independent candidate.

President Yahya Jammeh swept to re-election in November with 72% of the votes, in a ballot the opposition and observers criticised for the use of state media and resources to back his campaign.

Due to high levels of illiteracy, voting is through a unique system using glass marbles instead of ballot papers which are placed into drums coloured to represent each candidate.

The marbles fall into each drum, hitting a bell which sounds loudly, preventing multiple voting.