Gambia is holding a hotly contested presidential election this Saturday. It is the first such exercise since the departure of former ruler Yahya Jammeh in 2017.
President Adama Barrow, who is seeking re-election, is facing competition from four other challengers, many being former allies of his. So what’s at stake?
Honourable Fatoumata TambaJang served as President Adama Barrow’s deputy from 2017 to 2018. She joined Africanews from Banjul, the Gambian capital to speak on how important this exercise is for the country.
TambaJang: First of all I thank Africanews and Euronews for having me. The elections are very important because this is the first election post-Jammeh era. Democratic elections, and we are hoping that everybody’s looking forward to it. It’s unprecedented by the nature of the contestants. We have had for the first time in the history of the country 26 political parties contesting for the presidency.
Afircnanews: So the Gambia is located in a region that has seen three military takeovers of government in the last one year. Is there a feeling that the democratic gains of recent years are being undone? Does this worry you?
TambaJang: It does concern me. The nature of our population, under two million people. A peaceful social fabric, highly social unit and also comparative peace around the region or in the subregion, Senegal is stable, Guinea-Bissau is stable and of course, we have Ghana and the whole ECOWAS subregion. But generally, it is a concern. I think we are living in a world where we cannot be complacent. Looking at what obtains around us.
So this is a time to not be complacent. We need to be alert. We need to promote peace beyond the Gambia. We need to be interconnected. Without peace, the African Agenda 2063 that we all yearn for, Africa that we want: peace and stability and driven by its own citizens, African citizens. And we’re looking at security. We are looking at advancement, the empowerment of youth and women. We’re at looking at inclusive democratic governance. These are issues that cannot be really disassociated from the Gambia.
Afircnanews: Honourable Tambajang, lastly, some people say that you haven’t come out clearly to state who you’re backing in this presidential race. Most of the contenders are known to you. They are people that you have worked within the past. Do you have any preferences?
TambaJang: I don’t have any preference. For me, I’m looking at who can lead the country. Who will lead the country, who is democratically competent, who’s democratically passionate to lead the country, who has the interests of the country first, who is competent, who can assure us as Gambians of peace and stability? A person who can provide opportunities to work not only the public sector but also in the private sector, somebody who also has the vision and mission to bring in investors. Because the Gambia is a small space, the idea to have our natural resources exploited.