- Pro-Barrow parties won total 42 out of 53 legislative seats
- Gambians had complained that laws were made by executive decree under Jammeh’s 22 years rule
- 238 registered candidates representing nine different political parties vied for the 53 seats in the election
Gambian President Adama Barrow’s United Democratic Party, (UDP) has won Thursday April 6 parliamentary election, taking 31 seats in the 53-member parliament, the electoral commission announced Friday April 7.
NAIJ.com reports that 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.
NAIJ.com had reported on Thursday April 6 that Gambia held its first election since the ouster of ex-president Yahya Jammeh.
Al Jazeera reports that expectations are high that new lawmakers will overhaul the national assembly once derided as a mere rubberstamp by many in the country.
NAIJ.com gathered that Gambians have long complained that under Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years, laws were often made by executive decree and buttressed by legislation much later on, if at all.
Campaigning ended on Tuesday April 4, for the 238 registered candidates representing nine different political parties who are vying for the 53 seats up for election.
Five seats are to be appointed by President Adama Barrow, totalling 58 spots in the small west African nation's parliament.
Kemo Bojang, a first-time voter speaking to Al Jazeera by phone, said there is a lot of excitement surrounding this year's election.
"This is a breakthrough for us, voting for someone who will actually represent us," Bojang, 20, who resides in the western town of Bakau, said.
He added he has witnessed many within his community actively engaged in the political process, something he said many feared to do while Jammeh was in power.
"I've seen people who were not into politics before engaged in political discussion this time around," Bojang said. "Now there is not fear and the feeling that no one can stop you from speaking your mind."
The landscape of Gambian poltics have shifted dramatically since the last legislative elections in 2012, when Jammeh's Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) took 43 seats, with a large number of them uncontested because of an opposition boycott.
Bojang said he believed the number of parties participating"goes to show how democratic this year will be".
Among the parties running this year, the United Democratic Party (UDP) is fielding the most candidates after long being seen as the strongest opposition force in The Gambia.
Alagie Darboe, deputy administrative secretary of the UDP who is standing for a seat in The Gambia's West Coast Region, said the party was aiming to win in 44 constituencies.
"The support we are getting from the electorate during the campaign is a clear indication that we are going to win," he told AFP news agency.
Barrow, who won December's presidential race, was a former UDP treasurer who resigned to run as the candidate of an unprecedented opposition coalition.
After a drawn-out crisis caused by Jammeh's initial refusal to step down, mediation efforts by west African leaders and the threat of military intervention eventually delivered the country's first ever democratic transition in January.
Barrow's cabinet is made up of the heads of seven different political parties, all of which will field candidates in Thursday's election.
The president had initially said the opposition coalition was a "family" and would run again as a group in the legislative poll, but internal tensions broke apart the agreement.
In this NAIJ.com video, a former CBN governor and Emir of Kano Sanusi Lamido blasts Nigerian leadership.