Gambians queeing to cast their vote. Photo credit: BBC
Gambians queeing to cast their vote. Photo credit: BBC

(JollofNews) – The government of the Gambia shut down the internet on Wednesday evening as voting begins in the crucial election.

No official reasons has been given for the shutdown, but sources have told JollofNews that the communication blackout was put in place for security reasons.

Gamtel, the country’s largest telecom company, which also routes 91 per cent of the country’s IP addresses, shut down the internet around 18:00hrs local time.

The move showcased the tensions already gripping the country, with Serrekunda, the country’s largest town experiencing a minor scuffle between supporters of President Yahya Jammeh and the opposition.

The Gambia’s border with neighbouring Senegal is also closed and officials have also banned demonstrations to prevent unrest after the elections.

886, 578 Gambians  are voting in the election between incumbent President Yahya Jammeh and his opposition challengers Mamma Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Congress and Adama Barrow of the opposition coalition.

Mr Jammeh who has governed the Gambia since July 1994 is seeking a fifth presidential term.

Ahead of the polls, the special representative of the UN secretary-general for West Africa and Sahel urged Gambia’s government to release an opposition leader and dozens of his supporters from prison.

The country operates a simple majority vote system. The electoral commission has this year introduced an ‘on the spot vote count system’ to increase transparency and a candidate who has a simple majority of votes would be declared winner.