Gambia’s First Female Presidential Hopeful gets Support from Vanguard Africa (SMBC News – October 14)

Dr. Isatou Touray’s campaign is now getting support from Vanguard Africa, a pro-democracy movement that provides assistance to pro-reform candidates in Africa.

“We are incredibly honored to extend our support to Dr. Touray and her campaign. She embodies the type of transformational leadership that The Gambia has been sorely lacking,” said Vanguard Africa’s director, Jeffrey Smith. “I firmly believe that Dr. Touray offers the best chance to instill democracy and to inspire a new generation of Gambians. The good people of Gambia deserve so much better, and we will do everything we can to assist in Dr. Touray’s incredibly brave and selfless endeavor.”

Touray is the first female to seek for the country’s presidency.

The Gambia is mainland Africa’s smallest country has a population of just under two million people. It has been ruled for 22 years by President Yahya Jammeh, who came to power through a bloodless coup. His reign has not been as bloodless as the coup that brought him to power. Human rights group have accused his government of oppressing dissent and tightening the democratic space.

Smith has been working with Gambian activists over the years and says The Gambia is the worst dictatorship that most people have never heard of.

“Democratic governance may not be Africa’s most apparent problem to observers, but it is Africa’s first problem. Before leaders can address prevailing economic, health, education, and development challenges, we must first help to ensure free and fair election processes — with honest, independent, and ethical leaders at the forefront — thereby allowing citizens to exercise their democratic rights and choose a brighter and more prosperous future,” says Vanguard Africa.

Touray believes it is time for The Gambia to have a new government and has aligned herself with the mission of Vanguard Africa and said Africa’s first problem is a fundamental lack of good governance and ethical leadership.

“We admire Dr. Touray’s courage and her strong determination to improve the lives of the country’s two million people who are desperate for responsible, ethical leadership after over two decades of one-party rule and callous dictatorship,” Jeffrey Smith

Vanguard Africa seeks to promote free and fair elections, good governance and democracy in Africa as a means to ensure sustainable human development. The organization is supporting visionary leaders and pro-reform political candidates who are committed to democracy, accountability, and transparency across the continent.

According Vanguard Africa, studies have shown that there is an evident democratic recession taking place across the African continent and nowhere is this more apparent than in The Gambia. The group is seeking to address the root cause of this backsliding by supporting visionary change agents and leaders like Dr. Touray.

President Yahya Jammeh has survived at least a dozen coups, the last of which was in December 2014. Dozens of family members and friends of those accused to be the masterminds were arrested and detained for months including a 14 year old boy and many senior citizens.

Jammeh is seeking a fifth mandate in December and unity talks are ongoing in the West African nation for a coalition to challenge Jammeh and end his rule.

(Reporting and Writing by Sainey MK Marenah; Addition Writing and Contribution by Sam Phatey; Editing by Alhagie Jobe)