239 people are campaigning across mainland Africa’s smallest nation for 48 seats in the Gambia’s parliament. It is the largest number of people running for public office in The Gambia in more than 25 years.
The country emerged from a 22-year dictatorship after its longstanding ruler President Yahya Jammeh fled the country to Equatorial Guinea. Jammeh’s APRC party had maintained an overwhelming majority in parliament since 1997 and held its last sitting last week.
The party is sure to suffer defeat in the hands of the hands of former opposition parties, which formed a coalition to defeat Jammeh to give Jammeh a shocking defeat in the December presidential polls.
The scramble for the parliament has led the coalition to fall apart, giving the APRC a chance to win seats mostly in the Fonis and in central and eastern Gambia.
The APRC for the first time in 22 years will be putting up only 32 candidates but a new and formidable opposition party, the GDC has put up candidates in all 48 districts, highlighting the political strength of the party.
“We also want to assert that we will be an opposition with a difference. Whether you support a government in good or bad, that does not mean the governments will not come or go. But as we create a new Gambia, we will also create a new opposition. We will be happy to see this government bring about development to the country,” said Fabakary Tombong Jatta.
Jatta (APRC – Serrekunda East), the majority leader of the parliament said he will not be seeking parliamentary office. After a meeting with President Adama Barrow, Jatta, who now leads the APRC said he is sure his party will win all the districts its candidates are vying for.
President Adama Barrow has to nominate five people to become National Assembly Members. Barrow, who kept a tight lid over his cabinet nominees has so far avoided giving any hints as to who his parliamentary nominees will be.