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Turnout abysmal as Gambia holds local govt elections

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There has been an abysmally low voter turnout in Thursday’s local government in The Gambia where citizens have been heading to polling stations across the country on Thursday to elect councilors.Nine political parties are fielding candidates in all the wards as voting began at 8am but got off to a slow start with voters appearing in dribs and drabs, a trend which continued throughout the course of the exercise.

Over 800,000 Gambians are registered to vote, according to figures from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) whose officials lamented the apparent lack of interest in the local elections.

A fresh-faced President Adama Barrow, wearing an all-white kaftan and flanked by First Lady Fatou Bah-Barrow appeared at a polling station in the capital Banjul to cast his vote early on Thursday morning.

The results of the exercise will be know hours after polling closed at 5pm.

Alasana Ceesay, IEC’s presiding officer in Darisalameh in the Sandu District, Upper River Region (URR) told APA that the voter turnout has been low although most of the voters have been women.

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“There is no problem, everything is going fine so far” he said about the conduct of the local government elections, the third phase of an election cycle which began in December 2016 when long-term ruler Yahya Jammeh was voted out of office and last year’s National Assembly polls.

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One Omar Jawo speaking to APA shortly after casting his vote in Sutumah Sere, near the eastern town of Basse, over 300km from the capital Banjul saw his role in the exercise as a means of impacting on decision-making particularly in the management of public funds.

”Councilors deal directly with our tax revenue and so they should be chosen wisely so that they represent our wards effectively” he added.

Dado Jamanka, a woman who voted at the same polling centre, described the local government election as crucial, especially in bringing development to their communities.

”We women have recognised the significance of this election and that is why we are voting” she posited.

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Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports of fighting between supporters of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) on election eve.

The incident was said to have happened at Julangel, near President Adama Barrow’s home village of Mankamang Kunda in URR.

A separate incident was also reported in Sandu District of the same region.

Police spokesperson, David Kujabi confirmed the Sandu incident to APA.

From: Journal du Cameroun

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