By Yusef Taylor and Alieu Ceesay
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will be conducting Local Government By-Elections on 14th May 2022 because four Councillors resigned to contest in the recently concluded 9th April 2022 Elections. At the end of 9th April 2022, two Councillors won seats in the National Assembly while the other two lost. This is their story.
Former UDP Councillor Contested for Kombo South Under NPP
Speaking to former Councillor Momodou Bojang of Sanyang Ward he confirmed to our reporter that he will not be contesting for the upcoming 14th May 2022 By-Elections to retain his seat after resigning in April. Mr Bojang won his Councillor seat under the United Democratic Party (UDP) ticket back in 2018, however, he contested for the Kombo South Parliamentary seat under President Adama Barrow’s National People’s Party (NPP).
Mr Bojang lost to former UDP Majority Leader, Hon Kebba K. Barrow who ran a successful re-election bid. According to Bojang, he doesn’t “think it’s necessary for [him] to contest in this by-election, after resigning from the post and [contesting] for a [higher] position”. In his view it’s time for him “to give chance to others, to contribute their quota [in developing] their communities like” he did.
When asked if he regretted resigning from his position, Bojang stressed that he did not regret the experience and is more resolved to progress his “political career”. Explaining his decision to cross carpet from the UDP to NPP, Bojang says he was fired from the UDP alongside the Brikama Area Council Chairperson Sheriffo and Bilal Faal. “At the time of my resignation as Councillor I was not with UDP, I am supporting NPP and because I am supporting NPP” that’s why he contested under the NPP said the former Councillor.
Former APRC Councillor Rejected at NPP’s Brikama South Primary
Another former Councillor who resigned and lost his Parliamentary bid for election in April 2022 is Lamin Jarju the former Councillor for Marakissa Ward. Mr Jarju was rejected at an NPP Primary, which forced him to contest under an Independent ticket. The former Councillor lost to UDP’s Hon Alagie S Darboe who ran a successful re-election bid to retain his Brikama South seat.
The former Councillor confirmed with Gainako that he resigned from his seat to contest in the 9th April 2022 National Assembly Elections. “I resigned from the post because I want to give chance to others who wanted to contest for the Councillorship position,” he said.
Given that Mr Jarju had won his Councillor position under the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) our reporter questioned the former Councillor’s decision to contest as an Independent candidate.
The former Councillor explained that “this time [he] contested as an Independent Candidate because steps taken by NPP-APRC alliance didn’t certify” him. According to Mr Jarju, after failing to win the NPP Primary for Brikama South he was compelled to contest as an Independent candidate.
It’s worth noting that the APRC which was previously under the leadership of former President Yahya Jammeh has split into two camps with one camp aligned to the current APRC Party Leader and Speaker of the House Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta. This faction is also aligned with President Barrow’s NPP while the other faction known as the “No to Alliance Movement” is still aligned with former President Jammeh.
Progressing from Council to Parliament appears to be a natural progression for career Politicians, however, it can be risky as candidates can end up with no Political position after resigning from their Councillor position.
Two Councillors turned Parliamentarians
The former Councillor for Bundung Six Junction, Hon Sulayman Jammeh was elected as Parliamentarian for Bundunka Kunda constituency with almost 50% of the votes cast. Hon Jammeh defeated incumbent Hon Bakary Njie of the UDP by almost 14% of the votes cast.
Hon Jammeh who served two terms as an APRC Councillor believes that the achievements he recorded during his terms made the difference in the Bundunka Kunda Parliamentary elections.
According to Hon Jammeh “it was not my own decision but a decision from my constituency. After serving them for ten years they want me to represent them at the National Assembly,” said the newly elected Parliamentarian.
The second Councillor who made the successful rise from Council to Parliament is Hon Musa Cham of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS). Hon Cham replaced PDOIS’ Party Leader Hon Halifa Sallah for the Serrekunda Parliamentary seat.
Hon Cham resigned as Councillor for London Corner and went into the National Assembly elections convinced that his performance as Councillor will win him the Serrekunda seat. When asked if he had any alternative plans if he had lost the elections the confident Parliamentarian stressed that he would have continued his community service work.
Confirming to Gainako that he resigned from his Council position to contest in the 9th April 2022 Elections Hon Cham opined that “the worst scenario could be if I was rejected by the people, then I could have equally continued my community services work”.
Edrissa Jallow and Binta S. Jawo contributed to this publication.