In clean break from the past, Gambia holding first free parliamentary election in 22 years

Gambians go to the polls on April 6 to vote for members of parliament in the first legislative election since Adama Barrow became president earlier this year, following the defeat of former long serving leader Yahya Jammeh.

This is the most important vote in the country after presidential elections and this year it will be carried out under a new administration – the first time in over 2 decades.

On the streets of the capital Banjul, people say they are excited to express themselves freely as candidates from 9 political parties, including Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), campaign in what voters say is a different Gambia.

Gambia has a unique method of voting.
Voters are given one marble each, which they drop into a drum corresponding to the candidate of their choice. The marble strikes a bell inside the drum, preventing multiple voting.
This is the same system that saw Barrow declared winner after polls in December.

Jammeh initially conceded defeat to Barrow before back-tracking, launching weeks of political turmoil until the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) convinced him to leave.

Under Jammeh, parliament was seen as an extension of the presidency. Since the last legislative elections in 2012 Jammeh’s APRC held 48 out of 53 seats in parliament.
Opposition parties formed a coalition to beat Jammeh last year.

This time, each of them goes to the April 6 polls alone and analysts are waiting to see how if this weakens the position of the coalition to gain a majority in parliament for president Barrow.

Source: Reuters