Jul 31, 2008, 6:23 AM
Campaigning ahead of presidential election due tomorrow Thursday came to a close yesterday after 11-days of vigorous campaigning by the three presidential aspirants.
Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh, 46, is seeking a fourth term in office. He will come up against long-time rival Ousainou Darboe of the opposition United Democratic Party and Hamat NK Bah, an independent candidate standing under the banner of the newly-formed opposition United Front.
While the opposition have initially described the 11-day campaign period as “grossly inadequate”, Jammeh, who earlier said he would not embark on any campaign, has confidently declared that he will win the polls, which he says will be free and fair.
His two main challengers likewise are also confident of victory, stressing that Gambians want change.
Addressing political rallies through the country during his campaign, President Jammeh called on Gambians to nurture the peace and stability in the country, noting that these are fundamental to the success of any nation.
According to him, without peace and stability, even the imams and priests will not be able to lead congregational prayers.
“Come 25th November, some people (the opposition) will cry, but even if they do so, you should not laugh at them because, if you do so, they can create trouble.
“But let me make it very clear that I will not accept trouble from anybody, whether you are an APRC, UDP or supporter of any registered political party in this country,” Jammeh told his supporters.
Also addressing meetings across the country was UDP leader Ousainou Darboe, who opined that the current predicament facing the people of this country is a clear indication that Gambians should go in for a change.
“Enough is enough! I know, you know, and we all know that it is time for change and meaningful development of our country,” Darboe told thousands of supporters.
According to him, Gambians should, come 24th November, go in for a change by voting for the UDP so as to improve their livelihood in a more respectful and dignified way.
Darboe, who was impressed by the large turnout in Serekunda, said the turnout demonstrated how the UDP will defeat the Jammeh administration in Thursday’s polls.
“The APRC leadership is The Gambia’s problem, and UDP is the solution to this problem,” he stated.
While calling on Gambians to vote massively for the UDP, Darboe said: “Gambians are sick and tired of the APRC regime.”
He told his party supporters that the solution to the problems facing the country is in their hands, and they should go out in their numbers to vote on 24th November.
He added that Africa has seen opposition leaders winning credible elections, and that this can also happen in The Gambia, when Gambians go out and vote massively against the ruling APRC.
Independent candidate Hamat Bah, who also toured across the length and breadth of the country, told thousands of his supporters that education and youth employment will be a top priority, if given the mandate to rule The Gambia.
He told supporters at different rallies that his government will make education accessible to all Gambians and provide employment opportunities by building local industries that will create jobs for the youth.
“If elected into office, my government will also put an end to the entire problems and suffering of Gambian farmers, youth and the women, who are facing lots of hardship under the current APRC regime,” he said, adding that it is left to Gambians to save themselves from their suffering by voting incumbent President Yahya Jammeh out of office.
According to Hamat Bah, the APRC leadership is giving out millions of dalasis to a few people while the majority of Gambians are suffering, with no medicines in the hospitals, for example.
“Some of your villages are even without clean drinking water, have a poor road network and there is no money for government to buy what the farmers are producing,” Bah told rallies attended by mainly youths and women.