Gambia Decides 2021: Brief Profiles of Candidates Running for President

Photo demonstrating how to cast a ballot is taken from the website of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)

Gambians will head to the polls on December 4 to elect a president who will manage the affairs of the country for the next 5 years.

This presidential election is expected to be highly contested, as the country seeks to consolidate its democracy following the 2016 election that led to the ouster of long serving dictator, Yahya Jammeh.

There are six presidential contenders in the upcoming election, which include incumbent Adama Barrow.

Find below brief profiles of the candidates aiming for the highest political office in the Gambia:

Abdoulie Ebrima Jammeh:

Jammeh is unveiled as NUP leader in August 2021 (Photo Credit: NUP Website)

Abdoulie Ebrima Jammeh is the party leader of the National Unity Party (NUP). He was also a director-general of Gambia Civil Aviation Authority under the previous and current regimes of Yahya Jammeh and Adama Barrow.

In April 2021, Jammeh was relieved of his duties as GCAA boss by Adama Barrow. A civil servant with more than 35 years of experience, Jammeh, like his party, is a new entrant to the political contest scene.

He served as head of the Banjul Accord Group Secretariat, an ICAO Sub-Regional Grouping of ECOWAS CAAs, and as well as project manager for Banjul International Airport Improvement Projectand Corporate Planning Manager, The Gambia Civil Aviation Authority, among a number of other roles.

Jammeh studied Development Management, and PGD Information Systems Management.

Party symbol: Tractor and plant stalks

Party motto: Unity is strength

Party colour: Orange and white diagonality from top to left to right, white on top


Essa Mbye Faal:

Faal speaks at a debate for presidential candidates on Nov. 20 (Photo Credit: Commission on Political Debates)

He is an international lawyer who served as defense counsel at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a former lead counsel at the just concluded Gambia Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC).

Faal, a former State Counsel at the Ministry of Justice in The Gambia, is also a new entrant to the political scene, and with his first attempt at elections, he is aiming for the presidency.

He was one of the Lead Defence Counsels in the ICC cases of the Prosecutor vs. Francis Kirimi Muthaura (ex-Secretary General of Kenya), Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (President of Kenya), William Ruto (Deputy President of Kenya), and General Muhammed Hussein Ali (ex-Chief of Police of Kenya).

Faal was also Counsel for Charles Ghankay Taylor (former President of Liberia) before the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone and Counsel for Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi at the ICC. He helped exposed human rights violations allegedly committed during the Yahya Jammeh-era dictatorship.

Symbol: A group of people rowing a boat

Motto: One Gambia, One Nation, One People

Colour: Light Blue


Mama Kandeh:

Kandeh arrives for nominations on Nov. 2 (Photo Credit: Alhagie Manka)

In 2007, he beat Adama Barrow to the National Assembly seat for Jimara Constituency in the Upper River Region.

Kandeh formed the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) party after falling out with former dictator, Yahya Jammeh.

He proceeded to participate in the 2016 election and won 17% of the total votes cast.

After the former president rejected an alliance with President Barrow, he declared support for Kandeh leading to an alliance with his GDC party.

Jammeh’s supporters, who split from the APRC, have since joined Kandeh in campaign rallies country-wide.

Party symbol: Open calabash in two hands

Party motto: One Gambia one people

Party colour: Purple


Ousainou Darboe:

Darboe speaks at a rally in Bakadaji on Nov. 16 (Photo Credit: Facebook/Ousainou Darboe)

At 73, Ousainou Darboe is the oldest of all the candidates in the December 4, 2021 polls.

This is his 5th time contesting in a presidential elections in the Gambia and only missed the 2016 elections because he was serving a jail time over protests he led demanding for the release of a youth leader in his party(UDP), Ebrima Solo Sandeng.

As the leader of the largest opposition party(UDP), Darboe contested former dictator Yahya Jammeh in 1996 and lost.

He went on to lose three more presidential elections against Jammeh in 2001, 2006, and 2011.

Darboe served as Foreign Affairs Minister and later as Vice President in the current government between 2017 and 2019.

Party symbol: Unity handshake

Party motto: Justice, Peace, and Progress

Party colour: Yellow


Halifa Sallah:

Sallah speaks at a debate for presidential candidates on Nov. 20 (Photo Credit: Commission on Political Debates)

He is the longest-serving opposition figure among the candidates. In 1986, he set up and led the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) – a socialist party.

He is currently the National Assembly member for the Serekunda constituency – the biggest urban settlement in terms of population.

In 2006, he managed to win only 5% of the total votes cast as leader of the coalition, National Alliance for Democracy and Development (NADD).

Previously, he contested elections for the house of representatives in 1987 and 1992. At 68, he has declared the intention to retire if he loses in the December 4 polls.

Party symbol: Sun with 16 rays

Party motto: Liberty, dignity, and prosperity

Party colour: Brown


Adama Barrow:

Adama barrow speaks at a meeting with religious leaders in August 2021 (Photo Credit: Facebook/Barrow) Porg)

In 2016, Adam Barrow was chosen by a coalition of seven opposition parties to contest against then president Yahya Jammeh.

He went on to win 43% of the votes, unseating Jammeh who had ruled the country for 22 years.

Before this, he was only a treasurer of the United Democratic Party (UDP) and had failed in 2007 to become a legislator after being beaten by Mama Kandeh (another candidate in the upcoming presidential election).

Barrow, 56, formed the National People’s Party (NPP) in late 2019 in a bid to extend his mandate.

Subsequently, the NPP formed an alliance with the political party of former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh. But this was soon rejected by the former dictator.

Party Symbol: A White Horse

Party Motto: Peace, Progress, and Unity

Party Colour: Dark Gray

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