Some Gambians on social media have recently expressed their concerns over the number of presidential candidate in the country of less than two million people.
“They are now over 30, it seems. With a population of less than 2 million people with over 800,000 registered voters, it will be interesting to see how this unfolds on December 4 when Gambians go to the polls,” said Fatu Camara, one of the most popular Gambian mediapreneur.
While reacting to Camara’s post shared on 28 August, some Gambian opined that having such a number of presidential candidates with less than 1 million registered voters is ridiculous. They noted that this huge number of candidate would only further complicate the voting system and cause more confusion, especially, for illiterate voters.
“This is now a mockery to our democracy. How many ballot boxes will be at each polling station, and soon we will start seeing multi-colored party flags as the known colors are exhausted. How illiterate voters distinguish between the candidates is another question one would ask,” said Kebba Jome.
“I pity the voters. [I] can’t imagine how many boxes will be placed for voters to choose from. This isn’t national interest any more but greed. This is a clear that our people’s aren’t ready to be one instead they follow their egos,” said Lamin Jarju.
Yahya Saidy, another concerned Gambian, suggested that “Gambia shouldn’t have more than 4 candidates.
“3 maximum should be enough for us. What do all of this people think they can do as a president that they cannot without being one?” he added.
In addition, some noted that most of the presidential aspirants have no interest in winning the election; instead, they only picked the form in order to boost their CVs for future career or political benefits.
Demba Kanu said, “Out of these parties, we have less than four valuable ones. The rest is looking for coalition jobs or ministry jobs incase coalition wins, but that shit will never happen here again.”
“More aspirants than voters ….the sad thing is every Tom and Jerry wants to be a president…. Instead of uniting for national building, we’re dividing for political interest,” Mustapha Sanuwo added.
However, a few Gambian who shared their opinion believe that proliferation of political parties and Gambian elites is a blessing for the masses and a sign of true democracy.
“[Even though] I don’t even know some of them, this is interesting! Proliferation of [political] parties and elite division [are] good for a democracy!” Ablie Jabang noted.
“As Gambians, we need to change our mindset. What this picture is demonstrating is very discouraging. Amazing we can’t create something different in our own for our people if we not been voted as president. Must you be a president? How can we develop when all we know is to [be] creating political parties every day,” added Abass Sissoko.
Report shows that the 2016 election that knocked out Yahya Jammeh witnessed only 525,867 out of 886,578 registered voters who went to the polls that brought in Adama Barrow as the current President for a five-year recontestable term. Some political analysts believe that this crowded presidential candidates might discourage a huge number of registered voters to go to the poll on the election day; thereby leading to low turnout.
Adama Barrow was the standard-bearer of the opposition coalition, comprising seven political parties, who ran against the mastermind of the 22 July 1994 coup, Yahya Jammeh, who led the country for 22 years under the umbrella of the then-ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC). However, most Gambians believe that the 2021 presidential election is principally between the incumbent President Adama Barrow of the National Peoples Party (NPP) and his former Vice President Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party (UDP). Other potential candidate some Gambians look up to is Honorable Halifa Sallah.