Displayed with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Banjul (dpa) – Opposition candidate Adama Barrow was in the lead after almost 75 per cent of votes had been counted in Gambian presidential voting, threatening President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year-rule, the electoral commission said Friday.

Barrow, who has the support of seven political parties, had won 22 out of 53 constituencies – or 138,148 votes – in Thursday’s presidential polls.

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Incumbent Jammeh won 14 out of 53 constituencies – or 126,587 votes – according to the commission.

The election is won by a simple majority in the poverty-stricken West African nation, which largely relies on peanut exports for trade income.

Gambians Thursday voted amid a shutdown of all internet and telephone lines, which raised fears of Jammeh planning to hijack the election. The lines are expected to remain disconnected until Sunday.

Jammeh, a former army colonel who came to power during a 1994 military coup, has been ruling the Islamic Republic with an iron fist.

He is running for a fifth five-year term against two other candidates: Barrow, a businessman popular with the country’s largely unemployed youth, and Mama Kandeh, the leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress, the only opposition party that did not join forces with Barrow.

All three candidates were born in the same year, 1965.

The capital, Banjul, remained calm on Friday, despite a heavy security force presence.