Jun 16, 2014, 10:49 AM
Periodic delimitation of electoral constituency is necessary in any representative system, otherwise population inequities develop across districts.
The present set-up has made certain constituencies underrepresented.For example, the Kombo North constituency has over 100,000 registered voters while Georgetown has less than 2000 registered voters.And these two constituencies are represented by one person each at the National Assembly.
This negates the ideal situation of having constituencies with equal population or equal number of voters, which could also breach the principle of equal number of persons determining equal number of representatives.
Electoral constituencies should be evenly distributed between the constituencies on the basis of population, number of resident nationals and number of registered voters.
Therefore, the re-demarcation of Kombo North, Kombo Central, Serekunda East, and Serrekunda Central is a step in the right direction.
These are the biggest constituencies in The Gambia and the fastest growing areas in terms of population; so there re-demarcation is in place.
However, with the addition of the newly created constituencies, the total number of constituencies in the country has increased from 48 to 53.But for now, the 1997 Constitution only recognised the National Assembly as comprising 48 constituencies.
It is stated in Section 88 of the Constitution that “the National Assembly shall comprise “… forty-eight members elected from the constituencies …”
Therefore, with the increase in the number of constituencies, the constitution should be amended to reflect that reality.
Meanwhile, the IEC should as well consider amalgamating some of the small constituencies in terms of voter population like the Fonis and Janjanbureh constituencies to make them normal sizeable constituencies.
This could even bring back the number of constituencies to 48 then it would not have been necessary to amend the constitution anymore.
Ideally, constituency re-demarcation should take place at least every 15 years to capture the changes in the population vis-à-vis the number of voters in a particular district.
Delimitation is a vital component defining how representative and, to a certain extent, how fair elections will be.
“Periodic delimitation of electoral constituency is necessary in any representative system, otherwise population inequities develop across districts..”