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By Omar Bah reporting from Niamina
A crucial by-election will take place tomorrow in Niamina West Constituency between the opposition Gambia Democratic Congress, GDC, and President Adama Barrow’s newly-formed National People’s Party, NPP.
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The GDC is gunning to retain the seat which they won in 2017 with Demba Sowe, beating NRP in the National Assembly elections. Mr Sowe died in January but a by-election could not be held immediately because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some 4375 people registered in the constituency which was also won by the GDC in the 2016 presidential election.
Although the GDC remains very popular in the area and still has a massive support especially with the backing of the UDP, the NPP is posing a formidable challenge with President Barrow’s political aides keen on taking it as a test.
The NPP campaign team, led by NRP leader and Minister of Tourism Hamat Bah and Lamin Cham, are busy trying to shake the GDC strongholds.
Both campaigns have stormed the area with energy and frantic activity. Banners and billboards were on display in Katamina, a UDP stronghold, reading “Niamina West is not for sale”.
In the same village, an NPP supporter was seen passing NPP T-shirts to almost every compound he entered.
There have been reports of NPP distributing money, which they vehemently denied.
The GDC candidate Yero Jallow is from Sarreh Gainako, officially known as Jamwally village.
He went to Mount Camel primary school, Kunta Kinteh junior school in Brikama, Gambia High School and later enrolled at The Gambia hotel school to study hotel management and reception.
Jallow has since worked at Comium and later BB Hotel. In 2016, he resigned to join politics with the GDC and attempted to contest the parliamentary election in 2017 but lost in the primaries to the late Demba Sowe.
“I never dreamt to be a politician but because of the way Yahya Jammeh’s regime was, I decided to leave my job to join the fight against Jammeh,” Jallow told The Standard.
Jallow said he is very confident that the GDC will win and he will take the seat.
“I just want to urge all citizens of Niamina West to maintain discipline and peace. Let them go out in their numbers and vote for me,” he said.
The NPP candidate Birom JS Sowe is from Sowe Kunda village and he too attended Mount Camel primary and Armitage junior and secondary school before enrolling at Gambia College for his PTC in 2001.
He taught at Dalaba primary school and then returned to college for his HTC and after a brief teaching spell at Kombo Kerewan school, he went to the University of The Gambia to get his BSc in information systems.
Sowe worked at the PMO through the Ministry of Information as IT officer, a position he held until now.
Sowe, a former GDC supporter, won the NPP primaries against 12 candidates.
His campaign team has already covered over 29 villages out of the 35 in the area.
“I am confident that I will win with a landslide. The crowds are speaking for themselves. I am so much grateful especially to the people of Niamina West and I also thank the NPP. I am calling on all Gambians to rally behind President Barrow and the NPP in 2021. I am sure that the NPP will not fail,” he said.
The Independent Electoral Commission’s chief electoral officer, Samboujang Njie said all the necessary logistics have been put in place by the IEC to ensure a fair and free election.
He added that the commission will also provide all the necessary measures to ensure WHO guidelines are adhered to during the votes.
“I want to assure all the camps that the IEC’s principle of neutrality will not be compromised. We urge them to maintain peace and discipline throughout the process,” he told The Standard.
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