Gambia election: Voters cast marbles in key test for stability
Barrow, a 56-year-old former security guard and property developer, will face five challengers including his former political mentor, Ousainou Darboe, 73.
At one polling station in the capital Banjul, election officials carried the voting drums outside to show the long lines of voters they were empty before voting started.
Siddy Khan was first to vote in his booth. He walked out leaning on his cane, blue ink on his right index finger to show he had voted. “I feel good. I hope the vote will go well,” the 71-year-old said.
“Each voter gets a marble,” he said. “I think it is transparent and fair.”
Results are expected by Sunday under the simple majority system.
The other candidates include Essa Mbye Faal, who served as chief counsel of Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission that chronicled the abuses of Jammeh’s rule, and Mama Kandeh, who came third in 2016 and is backed by Jammeh.
On Thursday night as the campaign came to a close, hundreds of jubilant Barrow supporters gathered in downtown Banjul for a final rally, hoping another Barrow term would secure stability as Gambia seeks to put 22 years of Jammeh rule behind it.
Barrow, who has made lavish promises during the campaign, told the crowd he planned to introduce health insurance that would grant access to treatment without upfront payments.
Critics, however, say Barrow has broken his promises, pointing to how he backtracked on a pledge to serve only three years after winning in 2016. Barrow has argued the constitution requires him to serve out a full five-year term.
Barrow’s main challenger, Darboe, told supporters on Thursday that he intended to work towards reconciling Gambians and giving justice to those who suffered under Jammeh’s rule.