Gambia’s Next Major Political Milestone: Parliamentary Elections in April

This week, the Gambian and Senegalese (French) press both reported that the Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has confirmed 6 April 2017 as the date for the country’s National Assmebly elections. Municipal elections are confirmed for 12 April 2018. I have not been able to find the IEC’s statement online, but its website does feature a countdown clock for the elections.

The Gambia’s constitution (.pdf, Chapter VII, Part 1) mandates that National Assembly should have fifty-three members, forty-eight of them elected and five appointed by the president. The National Assembly’s website lists fifty-one current members.

The final days of former President Yahya Jammeh’s rule, in January, saw mass resignations from the cabinet but not from parliament. Indeed, the National Assembly remained strongly loyal to Jammeh, approving a ninety-day extension of his tenure as well as a ninety-day state of emergency.

By my count, forty-four of the fifty-one members listed online belong to Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction. It will be interesting to see how that party fares without him, and how new President Adama Barrow gets along with an APRC-dominated parliament for the next two months.

To conclude, it’s worth revisiting this comment that Peter Penar made to Deutsche Welle last month:

In previous parliamentary elections, Jammeh’s party held all but one parliamentary seat. So he has a lot of loyalists in parliament. In the up-coming legislative elections, there is a chance that he could come back in some sort of form. This would be very destabilizing. So ECOWAS would be very concerned about Jammeh’s potential return to politics.


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