By: Philip Saine
The 2022 Parliamentary Elections have been historical in many respects; the number of participating political parties, number of aspirants, the elected Independent candidates, number of women aspirants (19), has all been higher than any other time. The 2021 Presidential elections showed a historic high voter turnout and overwhelming high endorsement from Gambians. These occurrences gave rise to much speculation for the 2022 parliamentary elections. It is a human behavior to seek knowledge of future events. Predictions were made and opinion pools, using scientific research methods were utilized.
The actual elections results however, showed surprising results. For the first time in the history of the Gambia a ruling party has not won a single seat in the Greater Banjul Area. The entire election results then brought into question the selection criteria for candidates made by the incumbent and his National People’s Party (NPP).It is even alleged by some NPP supporters that instead of following the dictates of their constituency committees, most of the candidates were imposed on communities by the top echelons of the party.
The NPP should have recognized the existence of grassroots selection committees and respect their decisions. There is increasing political awareness and participation and ‘swing constituencies’ in the Gambia. Fatoumata Jawara of Tallinding Kunjang, Saikouba Jarju of Busumbala, Saikou Marong of Latrikunda Sabiji, Baba Galleh Jallow of Sannementereng and Alhagie Jawara of Lower Baddibu, have all been defeated. The high number of successful Independent candidates reveals that Gambians would speak through their ballots by electing those they want to represent them in the National Assembly.
An NPP deputy spokesperson told The Standard:‘I can assure you that most of those independent candidates are members of the National People’s Party. We recognize that and we will find a way to avoid such recurrence. NPP will find a way of reconciling with its members and return them to the party’. Those were his words and he should be urged to refrain from such opinion. An Independent candidate means being free from external party influences. An elected Independent candidate has a mandate from the electorate and is expected to work with consciousness and loyalty to the nation.The minister of Tourism’s admonitions for the electorate not to vote for Independent candidates was a folly.All those nominees accepted by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) have the right to be voted for. It is undemocratic to work against the expressed wishes of ‘the people’.
The previous Barrow administration had an opportunity to give the National Assembly a national character. The Gambian constitution has provision for the nomination of five parliamentarians. It should be seriously considered to include in this list the youth, the disabled and the members of the minority faith,This time round, as there is not a single Christian amongst the elected (despite the fact that at least 5 Christians contested) there is not a single Christian among those elected and unless Adama Barrow uses his prerogative to nominate at least one member of them, there will again be none
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