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Gambia goes through peaceful parliamentary elections

Apr 10, 2017, 11:06 AM | Article By: Mahamadou Camara

The Gambia has gone through a peaceful National Assembly elections successfully conducted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC),

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Alieu Momarr Njai announced over the state TV the final results of the Parliamentary Elections held on Thursday 6 April 2017, declaring that the United Democratic Party (UDP) won 31 seats, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) 5 seats, the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) 5 seats, the Gambia Democratic Party 5 seats, the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) 4 seats, The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) 2 seats and one seat went to an independent candidate.

There were 238 candidates that contested the elections, including 8 political parties and 41 Independent candidates, for 53 seats.

 The United Democratic Party (UDP), led by Ousainou Darboe who is now the Minister of Foreign Affairs, had 44 candidates out of which 31 were elected although they lost all three seats in the capital, Banjul.

It would be recalled that the UDP boycotted parliamentary elections in 2002 and 2012 under Jammeh’s regime.

The Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), the former ruling party of Yahya Jammeh, contested 29 seats and won only five in the Fonis, which is the stronghold of the ex-president Jammeh.

Political analysts believe most of its supporters joined the coalition parties because of the bad reputation of the former regime in committing atrocities, abuses of human rights, torture, killing, corruption and the theft of government funds.

The National Reconciliation Party (NRP) of Hamat Bah contested 24 and won five seats.

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP), the party which brought The Gambia to Independence in 1965 and held power until 1994 when Jammeh toppled that government, contested in 14 and won 2 seats.

The People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), which boycotted the Parliamentary Elections in 2012, joined the coalition in the presidential election in last December. It ran 22 candidates and won four seats.

The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), which took third in the last presidential election, had 52 candidates and won five seats in the National Assembly for the first time. The party was formed last year by Mamma Kandeh.

Among the 41 independent candidates, only one won a seat in the Upper River Region - Basse.

Three small parties who were part of the coalition, namely the National Convention Party (NCP), Gambia People Democratic Party (GPDP) and Gambia Morale Congress (GMC) failed to secure seats.

The President will nominate five members of parliament among them the speaker and his/her deputy who will all be elected.

The National Assembly will comprise 53 elected and 5 nominated members, who will serve for a term of five years.

There were 886,578 registered voters, according to the Chairman of IEC, voter turnout was 42% and there was no incidence of violence throughout the country.

Meanwhile, President Barrow on Thursday after casting his vote in Old Yundum told the press that there is no split in the coalition.

“I think everybody has the right to exercise your own right in this country. But there is no division in this tactical alliance. I think it is a democratic process. It is a very healthy process. There is unity in the cabinet,” he said.

Political analysts believe the former ruling party APRC failed in the parliamentary elections because its leader Yahya Jammeh is alleged to have embezzled over 82 million Euros and accused of human rights abuse as well as killing and torturing of opponents. This, it is believed, led many to resign from the party and join other parties.