Gambians are heading to the polls on Thursday, April 6th, 2017, in first elections since the downfall of the long time ruler Yahya Jammeh in December 2016.
A total of 239 registered candidates representing 9 different political parties are battling for the 48 National Assembly seats in the country’s Parliament. Five other nominated members are later appointed by the President, totaling 53 spots in the National Assembly.
Former President Jammeh’s APRC Party and now opposition has 29 candidates, The Gambia Democratic Congress of Mama Kandeh has 52 candidates, United Democratic Party of Lawyer Ousainou Darboe has 44 candidates, Hamat Bah’s NRP has 24 candidates, Halifa Sallah’s PDOIS has 22 candidates, NCP 3, GMC 5, PPP 14, GPDP 4 and Independent 42 respectively.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission, 886,000 registered voters will cast their votes in Thursday’s elections.
Gambians vote with marbles dropped into coloured metal barrels representing the different candidates and despite rumours of reform after the Presidential elections, the system will be used again for the legislative elections, according to the electoral body chairman Alhaji Alieu Momar Njai.
Expectations are high that the new lawmakers will overhaul a national assembly once derided as a mere rubber-stamp under former President Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years rule as laws were often made by executive decree and buttressed by legislation later.