After a rocky start to securing democracy, Gambians head to polls to vote for its representatives in the National Assembly. While this is crucial to Gambians, it is even more critical for the country’s new President Adama Barrow.
Barrow was on tour, where he campaigned for those he regard as pro-government. Having the so-called pro-government candidates win a majority in parliament means he will not have much difficulty in having his government policies and programs approved by legislators.
Barrow will not have the dictatorial luxury of ignoring the National Assembly to use executive orders and presidential decrees to rule the Gambia. His predecessor, Yahya Jammeh had a rubber stamp parliament that unanimously votes to have his policies passed.
Jammeh is accused of human rights abuses. Gambian authorities are uncovering mass graves where those killed by his regime have been buried.
Jammeh lost the elections in December and refused to leave. West African troops had to be deployed to oust him and uphold the outcome of the elections.
During the turmoil, more than 150,000 Gambians were internally displaced and some 75,000 people fled to neighboring Senegal, sparking a refugee crisis on the northern border.
Barrow has pledged a truth and reconciliation commission to heal the wounds of Gambians and foster unity after living under dictatorship for 22 years.
The new leader was hoping that the eight opposition groups that backed his rise to power would continue to unite as a coalition to secure a majority in parliament or forge a tactical alliance to deny Jammeh’s APRC of winning any seats.
But the parties, which have struggled to unite since Jammeh came to power could not mask the cracks that Barrow tried to seal to keep them together during the transition.
Gambians have a wider choice of candidates in this elections than ever before. It has seen an unprecedented number of candidates vying for 53 seats.
If those that Barrow believe will support his government policies do not win a majority of the seats, it will definitely affect the way he plans to govern and implement his campaign policies and government programs.