Speed Reads

Plonk! goes your vote

Polls close in first Gambian presidential election since former dictator's exile

Voters in the small African nation of Gambia cast votes Saturday to elect a new president, and vote counting is currently underway, Reuters reports. Results are expected by Sunday.

Gambians cast their votes by placing marbles into drums. Each drum is marked with a different candidate's picture. This system makes it possible for even illiterate Gambians to vote. According to data from the World Bank, Gambia's literacy rate in 2015 was just over 50 percent.

This presidential election is the first in mainland Africa's smallest country since former dictator Yahya Jammeh went into exile in 2017. Jammeh first took power in a 1994 coup. His long presidency was characterized by human rights abuses and widespread corruption. He has also been accused of rape. 

Current President Adama Barrow defeated Jammeh in the 2016 election, but Jammeh initially disputed the results in an attempt to remain in power. He fled to Equatorial Guinea only after neighboring countries threatened military intervention to oust him.

Barrow is running for reelection against five other candidates. One, Mama Kandeh, is supported by a political faction that remains loyal to Jammeh. Kandeh is not favored to win.