Gambia’s president, Yahya Jammeh, won his fourth term in office, extending his 17-year rule of the West African nation after obtaining 71 percent of votes in an election condemned by a regional bloc of nations.
Jammeh, 46, defeated opposition candidates Ousainou Darboe, who got 17 percent, and Hamat Bah who won 11 percent, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg based on data published by the Banjul-based Independent Electoral Commission on its website.
After seizing power in a 1994 coup, Jammeh won three subsequent elections. During his rule, he sought to bolster tourism, the biggest foreign-currency earner in Gambia, which is surrounded on three sides by Senegal and sits along the Atlantic-Ocean coast, luring visitors from the U.K. and the Netherlands.
The election was condemned by the Economic Community of West African States, which refused to send observers to the polls. The preparations and political environment were not “conducive for the conduct of free, fair and transparent polls,” the bloc, known as Ecowas, said on its website Nov. 22.
Voter turnout was 83 percent, according to the commission. A few problems were reported on election day, including people who attempted to vote at stations where they weren’t registered, said Sambujang Njie, director of operations for the body. Electors make their choices by casting marbles into drums bearing a picture of the candidate.
Gambia’s GDP per capita of $430 is less than half the average in sub-Saharan Africa of $1,127, according to the World Bank. It ranks 168 out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, which measures indicators including life expectancy and income.
Amnesty International, the U.K.-based rights group, says Jammeh’s government has curbed political freedoms and abused human rights, including through extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances. In 2007, Jammeh’s claim that he could cure AIDS was rejected by groups including the World Health Organization.