Presidential candidates in Gambia ended their campaigns on Thursday ahead of Saturday’s elections.
From the top of a truck, Gambian President Adama Barrow, who is running for a second term in office, greeted thousands of supporters following him through the streets of the capital of Banjul to McCarthy square where he gave his final speech.
Barrow warned against complacency and called on Gambians to participate in the elections vote en masse on Saturday to guarantee a victory.
A recent rapprochement between Barrow’s National People’s Party and the former governing party has cast doubt on the authorities’ willingness to right the wrongs of the past in making sure justice is served for the victims of former president Yahya Jammeh.
Barrow sought an alliance with Jammeh’s former party in September, a move denounced by rights activists.
Jammeh, however, said that he did not endorse the alliance and formed a rival party, with many of his supporters hoping he will return from exile.
After being absent from some events due to health problems, Barrow’s main election rival and head of the United Democratic Party, Ousainou Darboe, talked to thousands on Thursday night.
Darboe told the crowd that Saturday’s elections would bring “a new Gambia”, as well as “a new era”. Six candidates are participating in the presidential election in the hope of governing the country of more than 2 million people.
Saturday’s election will be the first one since Jammeh was forced to leave the country for not recognizing his defeat in the electoral process in 2016.
Jammeh seized power in 1994 in a bloodless coup, and was later voted out of office in 2016 after opposition parties created a coalition with Barrow as the main candidate.
After initially agreeing to step down, Jammeh resisted and a six-week crisis saw neighbouring West African countries prepare to send in troops to stage a military intervention.
Jammeh was forced into exile and fled to Equatorial Guinea.