Gambia: Emigration and Becoming of Age to Vote

There were two major factors at play, that we know about, in the lower turnout in the 2016 election as compared to 2011 election in the Gambia. Emigration of those over 18 and youth becoming of age to vote.

The turnout in the 2011 election was 657,904, those register 796,929 and those who did not vote 139,025.

The turnout in the 2016 election was 578,583, those register 886578 and those who did not vote 307,995.

The decrease in turnout from 2011 to 2016 was 79,321. If we surmise that emigration was entirely responsible for the low turnout that represents on average 15864 per year who have left the country. Considering how many people are leaving the country and that we have no reliable statistics it’s not hard to believe emigration was entirely responsible for this. There are of course other reasons such as death or illness that prevent a registered voter from voting.

The increase in registered voters from 2011 to 2016 was 89,649. If we surmise that youth turning 18 are entirely responsible for this then 17929 new voters each year have come of age and have registered to vote. There are other factors however with some people gaining citizenship and some registered voters already over 18 in 2011 who didn’t register previously.

What should be clear to all is that none of these numbers are particularly hard to believe. In fact they are very easy to understand. I suspect Jammeh may not be a mathematician or wants Gambians to doubt the results without reflecting.

The truth is that Jammeh doesn’t want all Gambians who have left the country to vote. He instructed the IEC to only let those in Gambia vote. He knows as does every Gambia citizen that had we all voted he would have still lost but much worse.

His new desire to suggest that he now wants every Gambian to vote shows a level of disdain for his own earlier wishes of not wanting every Gambian to vote. Perhaps he is suffering from a split personality?

Certainly he seems lost, gasping for any reason to remain in power. We all knew in our hearts that he would find any reason to remain in power if he lost the election. His initial acceptance of the results shocked us all.

I urge all Gambians to remain peaceful to not give Jammeh any reason to use the military.


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