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The polls have long since closed in Gambia’s presidential election, held on Thursday, but a communications blackout makes it virtually impossible to know the results.
The government imposed the blackout on Wednesday, blocking internet access, international phone calls, and, according to a government leaning website, even local media, ostensibly to “reduce the risk of unrest” precipitated by unofficial results.
Pres. Yahya Jammeh is vying for a fifth term to add on to his 22 years as president of the nation, but will have to fend off perceivably strong competition from one Adama Barrow, the candidate chosen from a coalition of eight opposition parties. Mamma Kandeh, who previously served in the legislature as a member of the ruling party, is the third presidential aspirant.
The two primary contenders have both expressed certainty in their victories, with Pres. Jammeh declaring that he’d win by a landslide after he cast his vote and Mr. Barro decreeing “there is no way we are going to lose. With the support we have and the change Gambians need, there is no way I will lose.”
The communications blackout is expected to last through the weekend.
The elections are being conducted virtually without any external observers, as observers for the regional body ECOWAS and the European Union didn’t get accredited by the government.
There is however a small team from the African Union, but its effectiveness as an observer is highly doubtful.
The AU team has 8 people, while there were 1,422 polling stations for the nearly 886,600 registered voters to cast their vote.
In his last campaign rally, the president warned against demonstrations following the results, which, coupled with the information blackout, strongly suggest that his reelection is a fait accompli.