Gambia's Jammeh eyes fourth term

2011-11-22 21:03

kalahari.com

Monrovia - Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power in a bloodless coup 17 years ago, is seeking a fourth term in a presidential election scheduled for Thursday.

The 46-year-old, who has quipped "only God can remove me from power," is up against two rivals in the poll, Ousainou Darboe and Hamat Bah. Although Darboe won 27% of the vote in Gambia's 2006 election, analysts say Jammeh is widely expected to be re-elected on Thursday.

Jammeh, a former wrestler, is credited with improving health care, education and roads. He has also boosted tourism, encouraging investment from international hotel chains. More than 150 000 tourists visit Gambia's sandy beaches each year, representing about 16% of the country's national income, according to the Overseas Development Index.

But critics say sex tourism is rife and the country's record on human rights is poor.

Amnesty International has called the situation "dire."

"The government refuses to abide by its international human rights obligations. Cases of enforced disappearance remain unresolved, perpetrators of unlawful killings have not been brought to justice, and torture is still widely used by security forces," the rights group said in a July report.

There have been cases of UN officials, heads of non-governmental organisations and rights researchers being thrown out of the country, and, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists, reporters have "disappeared" after criticising the president.

"Consistent government harassment has forced a steady stream of journalists into exile," the group has noted.

It estimates that at least 40 Gambian journalists - including sports reporters chastised after criticising the country's football league -have fled the country during Jammeh's rule. Many operate newspapers and radio stations from neighbouring Senegal, where they can work without fear.

Homosexuality is also outlawed in the tiny country. In 2008, Jammeh threatened to "cut off the head" of any gay or lesbian citizens.

The two main opponents to Jammeh have a long history of running for the presidency, but have never been able to break Jammeh's hold on the office.

63-year-old Darboe, Jammeh's main opponent, first campaigned for the presidency in 1996, two years after Jammeh came to power, scooping up 36% of the vote.

A human rights lawyer, his UDP party is campaigning on a platform of "democracy, human rights and good governance".

If elected, Darboe says he will impose presidential term limits, investigate "disappearances," improve the country's international reputation and work for freedom of the press.

Leader of the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) Hamat Bah worked in a hotel on one of the Gambia's main tourist strips before becoming a politician. He came third in Gambia's 2001 presidential election, winning 7.8% of the vote.

An 11-day period of election campaigning ends on Tuesday, which targeted almost 800 000 registered voters in the country of 1.6 million. Election observers from the African Union and Ecowas community of West African states are expected to witness Thursday's poll.

Thursdays have special significance in West Africa's smallest country. West African elections are more commonly scheduled for Sundays, but in Gambia Thursday is a day of spiritual importance.

It is the day of the week when the president, a self-styled herbalist, claims he can cure Aids. The cure, which he has said works at no other time, is administered at his home and requires stopping anti-retroviral treatment.

The president is able to stand for a fourth term in office after removing term limits to the country's constitution in 2002. Despite already assuming the title of "His Excellency the President Sheik Professor Alhaji Doctor Yahya Jammeh," a campaign led by tribal chiefs is under way to make him king.

Darboe has told local media that turning the country into a monarchy would be one way to ensure that Jammeh, who became president at the age of 29, was able to rule for life - a feat that could see him staying in power longer than Muammar Gaddafi, Gabon's Omar Bongo or Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe.

- SAPA
Read more on:    yahya jammeh  |  gambia  |  gambia elections  |  west africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Dewani Trial
 

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Entries are open, so what are you waiting for?

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
LOL! The 8 stages of marathon running

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.