The newly elected Gambia President Adama Barrow political party United Democratic Party (UDP) won majority seat in country parliamentary election with 31 seats out of 53 parliament members. the electoral commission announced Friday.
Former president Yahya Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) came second alongside Gambia Democratic Congress, a party formed by a former lawmaker in Jammeh’s regime.
The two parties took five seats each.
The election of a new parliament was seen as an important step towards establishing a democracy after more than two decades of Mr. Jammeh’s autocratic rule in the West African nation.
The poll – the country’s first election since Mr. Jammeh went into exile in January, saw 239 candidates from nine political parties competing for 48 seats in the national assembly.
Five additional seats will be appointed by Mr. Barrow, who took power on January 19.
It was hoped in the nation of 1.8 million people that the legislative election will provide Gambia with a functional national assembly that will help amend the wrongs committed during Jammeh’s regime.
The party has long considered itself a government-in-waiting, and Barrow was UDP treasurer until resigning to become the flagbearer candidate for the coalition. UDP’s victory is likely to make it easier for Barrow to implement a raft of promised reforms.
Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) meanwhile suffered a stunning defeat going from 48 seats to just five overnight. Analysts said the results reveal the deep anger felt by Jammeh’s critics at the actions of the past regime.
An expected surge for the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), an upstart party which did not join the coalition, failed to materialise, with the youth-led movement gaining just five seats. Smaller parties who joined the coalition took 11 more seats, and one independent candidate took a seat.
Gambia’s Electoral Chairman Njie noted the turnout was low at 42 percent saying more civic education was needed to convince people to come out and vote in legislative polls. More than 880,000 Gambians were eligible to vote for the body’s 53 elected seats.
It is the first election of lawmakers since longtime leader Yahya Jammeh left power. The new lawmakers are expected to scrutinize a wide range of reforms pledged by President Adama Barrow.
Lamin Dibba, a senior UDP official, said the vote put the party in a strong position to make major changes in The Gambia. “It’s increased our confidence and I think in the near future it will be very easy for us to form a government,” Dibba said. “Our first priority will be to look at the constitution,” he added.
Dibba said their priority will also be to ensure that the national assembly gives the nation the power to form laws rather than the president, referring to Jammeh’s frequent use of executive orders to push through laws.
The African Union, the regional bloc ECOWAS and the European Union all sent observers to monitor the elections.
West African troops remained on the ground to ensure security three months after Jammeh’s departure. The soldiers will remain in the tiny west African nation until Barrow is satisfied that reforms of the security service have removed rogue elements.
Source:(dpa/NAN)/ (AFP, Reuters, AP)