BANJUL, Gambia, Apr 7 – The Gambia’s longtime opposition won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections, easily defeating the party of ousted leader Yahya Jammeh, results announced Friday showed.
Official results announced by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) showed the United Democratic Party (UDP) had won 31 of the 53 available elected seats in the country’s National Assembly.
“(I) hereby declare the final results as follows: UDP won 31 seats; APRC (Jammeh’s party) won five seats,” IEC chairman Alieu Momar Njie declared at the commission headquarters.
Five more seats are appointed by the president to give a total 58 seats in the chamber, giving the UDP a two-seat majority.
Turnout was low at 42 percent, Njie said, saying more civic education was needed to convince people to come out and vote in legislative polls.
The UDP was one of seven parties who united to propel President Adama Barrow to power in December last year, but that coalition broke apart for the legislative election.
The party has long considered itself a government-in-waiting, and Barrow was UDP treasurer until resigning to become the flagbearer candidate for the coalition.
Their victory is likely to make it easier for Barrow to get a raft of promised reforms passed, with UDP leader Ousainou Darboe a personal friend and longtime ally of the president.
Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) meanwhile suffered a stunning reversal of fortune, going from 48 seats to just five overnight, and revealing the deep anger felt by former supporters and critics alike at the actions of the regime.
An expected surge for the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), an upstart party which did not join the coalition, failed to materialise, with the youth-led movement gaining just five seats.
Smaller parties who joined the coalition took 11 more seats, and one independent candidate took a seat.