By Alhagie Jobe
Polls have officially closed in The Gambia’s presidential elections and counting at the spot has begun immediately.
Polls opened as early as 08:00 GMT in the small West African nation with a total of over 880, 000 Gambians registered to vote in this year’s election in a country of less than 1.5 million people.
Incumbent President Yahya Jammeh who has ruled the tiny West African nation since 1994 is facing perhaps the biggest political challenge throughout his 22 years in power.
After casting his vote, Mr Jammeh told journalist that he will win in a landslide and with a majority that has never happened in the history of elections in The Gambia.
He is been challenged by Adama Barow who is leading a revitalized and united opposition coalition and Mama Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Congress who was a former National Assembly member of the ruling Jammeh APRC party.
Mr Barrow also renewed his confidence today after casting his vote saying he is going to win.
“I am confident that I will win. There is no way we going to loose. With the support we have and the change Gambians need, there is no way I will loose” he said.
During the day, it was reported that the turnout was massive and the process was running smoothly. Long queues were reported in almost all polling stations despite little information coming out of the country.
The government shut down the internet gateway and blocked international calls on the eve of the elections raising concerns and fear of election rigging by the incumbent President Yahya Jammeh who has ruled the country for 22 years.
There are no international observers for the election. Only the African Union has sent an 8-man mission to observe the election.
The sub-regional grouping, ECOWAS did not turn up as the government said their request was late.
Thursday’s poll comes at the end of a turbulent year that has given hope to opposition supporters that change may be on the horizon.