The ruling National People’s Party secured just 18 seats from 53 constituencies in The Gambia’s parliamentary election Saturday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said Sunday.
The biggest opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) followed with 15 seats, including in almost the entire capital area, the IEC said about the results of the balloting, which was marred by low voter turnout.
Candidates who contested under independent tickets have collected 12 seats: the National Reconciliation Party won four seats; the People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism, two seats; and the former ruling Alliance for Patriotic, Reorientation and Construction, also two seats.
Observers say the outcome means that the opposition combined have out-muscled the ruling party in the house. Losing control of the national assembly means that the ruling party may face stiff challenges in passing certain proposals in the house, including its development initiatives.
However, political scientist Sait Matty Jaw said such a balanced national assembly will strengthen the system of democracy in The Gambia.
“I hope the elected parliamentarians would maintain the reason why they were elected so that we can have a robust parliament that is based on helping address the concerns of the people by ensuring that they focus on holding the government accountable, making laws, including bringing a new constitution and prioritizing the citizens,” Jaw said.
UDP spokesperson Almamy Fanding Taal said the biggest opposition party is pleased with the outcome.
Sidia Jatta of the PDOIS, the longest serving parliamentarian, lost his Wuli West seat to the ruling party candidate. The veteran politician has been widely referred to as the father of The Gambia’s national assembly.
Only 20 members were able to retain their seats, and 33 were freshly elected to serve until 2027.
Three of the 19 women who contested the election were elected, but neither of the two candidate with disabilities managed to win.
“I am still strong. As far as I am concerned, it is an achievement (in taking part in the election),” said Lamin Manneh, one of the two candidates with disabilities. “I want to motivate my fellow handicapped that the sky’s the limit.”
“If the so-called abled people can deliver, the persons with disabilities can deliver too. We all have a role to play in nation-building,” he said. Enditem