By Ebi Kesiena
The Gambia’s President, Adama Barrow has declared his candidacy for the December 4 Presidential Poll, with campaigning in the hotly contested election set to begin next week.
Thousands of supporters lined the streets in the capital Banjul, as Barrow formally submitted his candidacy to the electoral body in the tiny West African nation.
The December 4 election will be the first since the departure of former dictator Yahya Jammeh, and is viewed as a key test of the country’s democratic transition.
While speaking with journalists, Barrow stated that the majority will rule.
“Whatever the Gambian people decide I’ll respect that because I’m a democrat and I believe in the rule of law and democracy,” he said.
Jammeh seized power in The Gambia in 1994 as part of a bloodless military coup.
He was then repeatedly re-elected in disputed circumstances until he was defeated in December 2016 by Barrow, who was then a relative unknown.
After a six-week crisis that led to military intervention by other West African states, Jammeh was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Rights activists have accused him of committing a litany of crimes during his 22-year rule: from using death squads to raping a beauty queen and sponsoring witch hunts, among others.
However, the former dictator has retained considerable support in The Gambia, raising questions about his continuing influence in the nation of two million people.
Nineteen candidates have registered Presidential bids so far, which the electoral commission must still approve.
The campaign season formally begins on November 9.