Mar 31, 2008, 7:42 AM
The ruling APRC party yesterday retained the Sare Ngai ward seat after it emerged victorious in the much-talked about by-election in the ward in Wuli West constituency in Upper River Region.
Alkali Kebbeh of the APRC polled 1817 (One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventeen) votes while his rival, Menkeh Ebrima Barrow of the opposition NADD, only scored 827 (Eight Hundred and Twenty Seven) votes.
The election, readers would recall, follow the resignation of APRC’s Momodou Barrow of Jah Kunda.
The counting of the election results, according to our reporter in Basse, was held in the village of Kolibantang.
Shortly after the election results were known, The Point spoke to Yankuba Colley, the APRC national mobiliser and Mayor of the Kanifing Municipality, and Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of the opposition Peoples Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism, PDOIS.
Reacting to the election results, Yankuba Colley told The Point, in a telephone interview, that "this is just a signal to tell everybody in this country that the ruling APRC is the winning party".
"We are the winning party, and will remain winning. This also shows that the APRC, at this point in time, cannot lose elections. This is also a signal that the APRC is going to win next year’s general elections hands down," he declared.
According to him, the victory for the ruling APRC has also proven the opposition wrong in their claim that they are gaining support in Wuli West.
"The people of Wuli West are, in fact, joining the ruling APRC. The election results have also added our majority in this ward twofold. The APRC has never recorded such a majority in this ward, and this goes to show that the opposition is losing ground," Mayor Colley further said.
"As I said in my previous interviews, the oppositions pose no threat to the APRC," he added
Halifa Sallah of PDOIS also told The Point in a telephone interview that Wuli West constituency has two wards: Sutukonding and Sare Ngai.
"Sutukonding ward is a NADD seat, while Sare Ngai ward has been an APRC stronghold, and they have emerged to take that seat.
"From my own point of view, this confirms all the more that individual parties cannot take on the ruling party without bringing something new to the electorate," he said.
According to Halifa Sallah, there are 6,474 registered voters in Sare Ngai ward, and only 2645 went out to cast their votes, even though both the APRC and NADD conducted a vigorous campaign.
"All together, the combined voters of the APRC and NADD are 2645," Halifa said.
"This, to me, is the puzzle, and unless voter apathy is addressed, the opposition does not hope to win an election against the incumbent.
"And how to address the voter apathy is the challenge. The opposition forces could try to come out with a programme to address the voter apathy."
Also speaking to The Point in a telephone interview last evening, Kolly Bah, APRC constituency Chairman for Wuli West, said: "We have defeated them; NADD is dead in Wuli West."
Meanwhile, efforts to talk to Alkali Kebbeh, the duly elected ward councilor of Sare Ngai ward proved futile due to the magnitude of the crowd around him.