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A women’s rights activist in Gambia ,Isatou Touray ,currently campaigning against female genital mutilation has said she will put herself forward as the country’s first-ever female presidential candidate.

 

“It is true that I want to contest the presidency” in December’s election, Isatou Touray said ahead of an official announcement expected later Friday.

 

She said she would stand as an independent candidate in the polls, expected to hand incumbent Yahya Jammeh a fifth term at the helm of the poor west African nation.

 

Now in her sixties, Touray has had a colourful career, winning a US State Department award for empowering Gambian communities in 2008 but arrested in 2010 over corruption allegations when she was deputy director of the Gambia’s development institute.She was acquitted of all charges.

 

 

Meanwhile on Thursday, the United Democratic Party¬†(UDP) — the country’s principal opposition movement — named relatively unknown businessman Adama Barrow as its candidate.

 

 

Two UDP members have recently died in custody following anti-government protests, prompting the UN, France, the US and various human rights watchdogs to voice concern and call for a neutral probe.

 

UDP party leader Ousainou Darboe is among several members serving three-year sentences for organising a rally over one of the deaths, while another group is awaiting trial for similar offences.

 

The candidates must deposit the sum of 500,000 dalasis ($12,500) in November when the Independent Electoral Commission invites parties and candidates to declare.

 

 

Campaigning begins on November 16.

 

Since independence from Britain in 1965, the Gambia has had just one other leader: Dawda Jawara, who served until the current president toppled him in a 1994 coup.