FILE PHOTO: Gambian’s polling station staff member empties a box to count the marbles that represent votes for a presidential candidate Ousainou Darboe during the presidential election, in Banjul, Gambia December 4, 2021. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

December 5, 2021

By Bate Felix

BANJUL (Reuters) – President Adama Barrow held an early lead in Gambia’s presidential election, winning more than half of the votes from the first 17 constituencies where results were announced by authorities on Sunday morning.

Barrow only needs to win more votes than his nearest rival to secure a second term in the tiny West African country of 2.5 million people. A result from Saturday’s vote is expected sometime on Sunday.

Gambia has 53 constituencies in total. Some heavily populated areas are yet to be counted and could have a significant impact on the final result.

The vote was the first in 27 years without disgraced former President Yahya Jammeh, who lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea after refusing to accept defeat to Barrow in 2016.

It was seen as a test of Gambia’s democratic progress and its ability to leave the Jammeh era behind.

Five other candidates were in the race with Barrow, including his former mentor Ousainou Darboe. A political veteran, Darboe is considered Barrow’s toughest challenger and was only about 30,000 votes behind Barrow early on Sunday.

Gambia’s heavily tourist-dependent economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. It is also a peanut and fish exporter.

(Writing by Edward McAllister; Editing by Frances Kerry)

December 5, 2021 9:50 am

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