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Gambia’s opposition leader publicly declares assets

Gambia’s opposition leader Ousainou Darboe publicly declared his assets Thursday, days after submitting his nomination for president with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

“I am giving the media my asset declaration and I am challenging all candidates, particularly President Adama Barrow to also release his asset declaration to the media,” said Darboe.

This makes the United Democratic Party (UDP) leader the first presidential hopeful to make a public declaration.

Gambians head to the polls Dec. 4 in what is the most crowded presidential race since independence in 1965. Close to two dozen candidates are expected to be nominated by electoral authorities.

Darboe is one of the three frontrunners for the State House. He will compete against Barrow, who is also the former treasurer of his party and leader of the National People’s Party (NPP).

And he will go up against Mama Kandeh, a former lawmaker in the administration of former President Yahya Jammeh, who heads the Gambia Democratic Congress.

The assets published include leased properties, bank accounts, one of which is held by the Bank of America in the US.

Darboe was Barrow’s foreign minister and vice president before the two had a disagreement.

Barrow then formed the NPP, where he registered as a presidential candidate on Thursday.

None of the candidates has declared assets.

Barrow indicates he will accept defeat

The Gambian leader promised to accept the results of the elections if he loses.

“I am a democrat. And I believe in principles of democracy and rule of law. It is the Gambian people who make the decision. And Gambian people, whatever they decide I will respect that,” said Barrow.

He came to power in 2016 after defeating Jammeh, who ruled with an iron fist.

Jammeh, who currently lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea, is accused of several human rights violations, including killings and torture of political opponents, human rights defenders and journalists after taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

Barrow previously contested a National Assembly election to represent his native Jimara constituency on a ticket of the UDP. He would serve the UDP as treasurer until he was chosen by the party to be a presidential candidate.

Talk for a coalition between seven political parties and three independents ensued a challenge to Jammeh in 2016. Barrow was chosen to lead the group.

A Barrow win nearly plunged the country into civil war as Jammeh refused to step down, claiming he annulled the results — a power given only to the Supreme Court.

The regional ECOWAS bloc put boots on the ground in a show of force, threatening to remove Jammeh from power. A last-minute deal brokered by former Guinean leader Alpha Conde got Jammeh to step down.

Meanwhile, Barrow urged the electoral commission and officials to ensure a peaceful election.

“There is a piece of advice I want to make (and) this piece of advice is directed at the IEC. Anybody (who) is a member of the IEC automatically you are the referee, and if you are the referee, you must be independent,” said Barrow. “If you are independent, it makes the job easy for you. If you are independent, it makes the job easier for the players. If you are independent, it makes it easy for all the parties to accept the final results, the final decision of the Gambian people.”​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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