By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Gambia’s National Assembly is composed of fifty-eight (58) National Assembly members of which fifty-three (53) are elected and five are nominated by the President. The current National Assembly is the fifth legislature and has six female National Assembly Members (NAMs) and one person with a disability. Coincidentally only one person with a disability is running in the 9th April 2022 Parliamentary Election. The lone person with a disability running is not backed by any party so Mr Lamin Manneh will be contesting in Sanneh Mentereng as an Independent Candidate.
On Saturday 9th April 2022, nineteen (19) women will be contesting elections however the number of youth contesting has not been declared by the Independent Electoral Commission.
It’s worth noting that during the tenure of the fifth legislature Hon Demba Sowe (Gambia Democratic Congress [GDC]) of Namina West and Hon Fakeba Colley (United Democratic Party [UDP]) of Kiang West died and were given a state funeral. Hon Demba Sowe was replaced by Hon Birom Sowe after a By-Elections in November 2021. Hon Birom Sowe became President Adama Barrow’s first Parliamentarian for his newly formed National People’s Party (NPP).
According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) which is responsible for conducting elections in the Gambia a total of 251 candidates were approved for the Parliamentary Elections however, five withdrew of which four are Independent and one is from the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS). One candidate for the Gambia for All (GFA) died and has been replaced. This means that the total number of candidates has been reduced to 246.
Voter Apathy and Trust in IEC
According to the Polls published by the Center for Policy, Research and Strategic Studies (CepRass), “while the likelihood of voting in the upcoming NA election is high, the poll results show that it will not be as high as in the presidential election”. This highlights that “voter apathy in the NA election is likely to still remain”. This has been a problem historically because of a number of reasons. One of the reasons is the short three-month gap between the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections. This year, however, the combined effect of the Ramadan period could adversely impact voter turnout.
The commission has faced a number of legal challenges in court and has won and lost some. The Poll also notes that the “majority of the respondents included in the poll still trust the ability of the IEC to organize free and fair elections. Most respondents (about 63%) were satisfied with the IEC’s handling of the NA election nomination process. Furthermore, there is high agreement among respondents that all candidates were treated fairly by the IEC during the nomination process”.
CepRass Poll Analysis
The CepRass opinion poll has predicted that the NPP will win sixteen seats while Ousainou Darboe’s UDP will win 13 seats. At the 2017 Parliamentary Elections, the UDP won the majority in Parliament with 31 seats however, they lost eight seats to NPP after a fallout between President Barrow and Ousainou Darboe. The GDC also lost two seats to the NPP but the CepRass poll has predicted that the GDC will not retain any seats. GDC, APRC and NRP all won 5 seats in the 2017 Parliamentary Elections.
Surprisingly the CepRass Opinion Poll showing the likely winners has predicted that the Party of former Majority Leader Hon Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the Association for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) will only win one seat in Foni. One notable mention is Hon Musa Amul Nyassi (APRC) of Foni Kansala who is predicted to lose his seat to Independent Candidate Almamaeh Gibba.
In 2017 only one Independent Candidate won a seat however, this year four are predicted to win and they are Bakary Badjie of Foni Bintang, Almameh Gibba of Foni Kansala, Yunusa Bah of Kiang Central and Omar Jobe of Niani.
Besides the APRC, the CepRass polls predict that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) will only win one seat. Meanwhile, the CepRass poll has predicted that Hamat Bah’s NRP will retain all the five seats that it won in 2017.
The poll also notes that the PDOIS will only win two seats in Serekunda and Banjul North. PDOIS had won four seats in the 2017 Parliamentary Elections. If the CepRass poll is accurate then PDOIS will lose its two Wulli seats currently occupied by Hon Suwaibou Touray (Wulli East) and Hon Sidia Jatta (Wulli West). The polls predict that the NPP will turn over these two PDOIS strongholds.
Meanwhile, the poll results were inconclusive on a total of ten constituencies, meaning that the poll results cannot indicate who would win in those constituencies. All other parties have been predicted not to win any seats according to the CepRass Poll, this means that the Party Leader for the Gambia Moral Congress, Mai Ahmed Fatty contesting against Hon Sidia Jatta in Wulli West are both set to lose.
Some of the notable mentions of Parliamentarians predicted to lose their seats are Hon Fatoumatta Njie (PPP turned Independent) of Banjul South which is predicted to go to NPP. It’s worth noting that Hon Saikou Marong of Latrikunda Sabiji, Hon Alhagie Jawara of Lower Baddibu, Hon Baba Galleh Jallow of Sanneh Mentereng and Hon Fatou Jawara of Talingding who all defected from the UDP to the NPP are set to lose their seats to the UDP. Hon Kebba Jallow of Jarra Central who defected from the GDC to the NPP is also set to lose his seat to the UDP candidate.
Out of the NAMs who defected Hon Saikouba Jarju of Busumbala, Hon Salifu Jawo of Jokadu, Hon Billay Tunkara of Kantora, Hon Abdoulie Ceesay of Old Yundum are predicted to retain their seats. Hon Omar Darboe of Upper Nuimi is currently inconclusive.