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Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Gambia election: Candidates' profiles
The BBC's reporter in Banjul, Ebrima Sillah, examines the contenders in Gambia's presidential election on 18 October.

Yahya Jammeh

Yahya Jammeh is the incumbent and represents the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, APRC.

He was born in 1965 in the village of Kanilai in the Western Division Mr Jammeh attended Gambia High School in Banjul.

President Yahya Jammeh of the Gambia
Jammeh trying for a second term in office

He enjoys wrestling and was a keen wrestler himself as a younger man.

He joined the army in 1984 and staged a successful military coup 10 years later. He won elections in 1996 in which the main opposition parties were banned.

Mr Jammeh is twice married, first to Tuti Faal in 1994, and they separated in 1998. His second wife is Moroccan born Zenab Suma, whose father was a Guinean diplomat based in Rabat.

He has one child, Mariam Jammeh born in 2000.

He lists amongst his interests, travelling, bird and animal watching, driving and says he is keen on world events.

President Jammeh says he overthrew a lazy and corrupt government in 1994 and says his record over the last seven years shows that he can give the Gambia the economic development it so desperately needs.

Ousainou Darboe

Lawyer Ousainou Darboe is the candidate of the United Democratic Party led coalition which includes the Peoples Progressive Party of Sir Dauda Jawara the man Mr Jammeh ousted.

Presidential candidate of the Coalition Ousainou Darboe
The lawyer is President Jammeh's main challenger

Mr Darboe is considered the most serious challenger to Mr Jammeh.

A leading lawyer who studied in Nigeria and Europe, he returned to the Gambia in the 1970s where he worked in the government's legal office as the draughtsman.

He resigned in 1980 and went into private practice.

Mr Daboe defended many of the alleged coup plotters in the foiled 1981 take over including Sherriff Dibba, the leader of the National Convention Party who is also running for the presidency.

He then went into politics himself in 1996 in the wake of the ban on First Republic politicians and their parties imposed by Mr Jammeh.

Mr Daboe however lost to Mr Jammeh in the 1996 presidential election.

Still in private practice, Ousainou Darboe, who is in his 50s, has two wives and several children.

Hammat Bah

Hammat Bah - National Reconciliation Party, NCP. Formed his party in 1996 when he ran for the presidency finishing third out of four candidates.

Presidential candidate Hamat Bah
Bah is seen as a possible kingmaker

But some say if this 41-year-old former teacher, accountant and hotel manager does not win this year's presidential election, he stands a strong chance in the future.

The MP for Upper Saloum constituency in the Upper River Division of the Gambia is seen as a possible kingmaker and power broker if no one candidate wins an outright 50% of the vote necessary to prevent a second round.

Sherriff Dibba

Sherriff Dibba - National Convention Party, NCP. Veteran politician and first ever vice-president of Independent Gambia.

At 64 he is the oldest contender in the race. First went into opposition in 1977 when he formed the NCP.

Mr Dibba was incarcerated in 1981 for alleged involvement in the foiled coup attempt that year, but was freed after 11 months in detention.

Together with other older politicians, he was banned from participating in politics by President Jammeh in 1996. The ban was lifted only in July this year.

He says politics is his passion and he is particularly fond of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, whose autobiography he lists as one of his favourite books.

Sedia Jatta

Sedia Jatta - People's Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism - PDOIS.

Seen to be the most idealistic of the presidential contenders.

Fluent in Arabic and French he has two Masters degrees and a Doctorate in Philosophy

He has shown a knack for attracting young voters, who are the largest voter population group in the country.

May not win, but could cause damage to Jammeh's chances by reducing the president's hold on the youth vote.

He has three children. Also in his 50s, he loves a good debate.

See also:

16 Oct 01 | Africa
Gambia campaign draws to a close
18 Jan 00 | Africa
More soldiers arrested in Gambia
21 Aug 01 | Africa
Gambia hit by pre-poll fever
23 Aug 01 | Africa
Gambia kicks out British diplomat
04 Oct 01 | Africa
Violence mars Gambia campaign
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