Gambia opposition plans parliament vote boycott
BANJUL, March 8
BANJUL, March 8 (Reuters) - Six Gambian opposition parties said on Thursday they will boycott a parliamentary election due to be held later this month, saying it would not be transparent and urging mediators to secure a postponement of the vote.
The group boycotting the poll includes the UDP party, the main opposition to President Yahya Jammeh. However, the second-largest rival NRP has said it will stand in the March 29 vote.
Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, won re-election late last year but the African Union was uncharacteristically critical of the poll, saying he benefited from a strong media bias and greater financial resources in the race.
The opposition parties have complained there is no level political playing field and accuse the ruling party of using state resources.
They had requested the election be delayed, but say the election commission had not listen to their request.
However, analysts also say Jammeh's rivals want a delay so they have more time to raise funds.
In a joint statement, the parties called on West African regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union and the Commonwealth to intervene in the impasse in the former British colony, which is a slither of land wedged inside Senegal.
Jammeh currently controls 42 of the 48 elected seats in the National Assembly. The UDP has four with an independent and another opposition party holding the other two.
The West African state's leader has been broadly criticised for a number of issues, ranging from clamping down on press freedoms and threatening human rights groups to a 2008 order for all homosexuals to leave Gambia. (Reporting by Pap Saine; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Sophie Hares)
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