By Gambia Correspondent – Over 10,000 voters in the Wuli East district of the Upper River Region will today go to the polls to vote in the much-awaited bye-election in their district, seen as a key pointer to the strengths and weaknesses of the ruling APRC and the opposition ahead of the Presidential Election later this year.
While the ruling party fielded one Saidou Sabally, a native of Passamas Fula Kunda in Wuli East district, the opposition NADD’s candidate is Suwaibou Touray, the same candidate who lost to the ruling party’s candidate in the last legislative elections.
Reports from the Upper River Region revealed that bigwigs from the ruling APRC and NADD have embarked on an intensive campaign, ahead of the polls, which followed the death of Hon. Bekai Camara last month, National Assembly Member for Wuli East constituency.
Ahead of the polls, Yankuba Colley, Mayor of the Kanifing Municipality, who is also the APRC National Mobiliser, told The Point from Wuli yesterday that the ruling APRC party “will sweep the polls,” noting that the party “will register more votes” this time around than in the last legislative election.
Colley claimed ahead of the election that there was no chance for the opposition, citing the numerous development projects registered by the ruling APRC and its “visionary leadership” since it came to power nearly 17 years ago as a testimony to the fact that the Gambian people are behind President Yahya Jammeh.
Suwaibou Touray of NADD, a native of Sutukoba in Wuli East district, also told The Point earlier that his party’s policy has been proven 100 percent to be correct in The Gambia. According to him, there must be winners and losers in any election, but the current situation in The Gambia shows that people must participate in elections or else democracy will fail in the country.
He further stated that the priority of the people of Wuli is the construction of roads, and that the ferry service is in a deplorable situation.
Whatever the case, analyst are of the view that the Wuli East bye-election will serve as a decisive moment for political parties in the country, especially as the country moves towards presidential, parliamentary and local government elections, beginning this year through 2013.
They expressed the opinion that it is possible for anyone of the parties to win the bye-election, but it is certainly not going to be a good indicator of what is in store for the loser in the forthcoming presidential, national assembly and local government elections.
According to statistics, the total number of registered voters in Wuli East district in the last legislative election held in 2007 was 10, 851, while voter turnout was 59%. The ruling APRC polled 3760 votes while NADD polled 2691 votes.
The opposition United Democratic Party UDP did not put up a candidate in Wuli East during that National Assembly election, and has not put up any candidate for this bye-election.This, according to its party leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe, does not mean the UDP cannot field a candidate there, if they wished to do so.
“Polls will open at 7 am and close at 4 pm,” a statement from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said yesterday, adding that the results will be declared by the Chairman of the IEC at Election House located alongBertil Harding Highway in Kanifing Municipality.