Adama Barrow, UDP's standard bearer
Adama Barrow, UDP’s standard bearer

(JollofNews) – Gambia’s main opposition party named a new leader on Thursday to challenge President Yahya Jammeh in a December election after the jailing of its previous candidate.

The United Democratic Party said it had chosen Adama Barrow, a 51-year-old businessman, to lead its campaign to end Jammeh’s 22-year rule of the small West African state.

Human rights groups accuse Jammeh of systematically repressing dissent, straining relations with Western donor countries.

Nearly 50 protesters were jailed in April and May during rallies calling for electoral reform, including former UDP leader Ousainou Darboe and other senior figures. Darboe and 18 others were sentenced in July to three years in prison.

Two of the party’s members have died in custody, prompting calls for an investigation from the United Nations and the United States. The government has denied allegations that one of the victims died from torture.

Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission on Thursday set the election date for Dec. 1. Candidates were requested to submit their applications between Nov.7-10.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)