Mariam Jack Denton, Speaker of the Gambia’s parliament has vowed to remain impartial in her duties, pledging to work in the best interest of the nation.
“We expect healthy debates – everything will be properly scrutinized in the best interests of the country,” she said, “to make sure we don’t have bad laws.”
Denton has been a member of the opposition UDP party since former President Yahya Jammeh ousted Sir Dawda Jawara’s government in a 1994 coup.
Denton’s father, Alieu Jack has been Gambia’s House Speaker twice under Jawara. She was jailed for 111 days by Jammeh for supporting the opposition.
The UDP is the party of Gambia’s new president, Adama Barrow. Barrow resigned from the party to lead the coalition that brought him to power.
Barrow defeated Jammeh in the December polls with the backing of seven opposition groups and an independent candidate.
The UDP won an absolute majority in last month’s parliamentary elections but Denton, Gambia’s first female attorney says: “we have to be fair to all sides of the house, everybody will have his or her own share, we’re not going to allow anybody to dominate.”
Gambia’s parliament has about 10 opposition parliamentarians and an independent candidate and lively debates are expected, especially with the presence of two MPs from Serrekunda and Wuli West, whose party is part of Barrow’s unity government but are believed to be neutral.