State and politics
According to the Constitution, which came into force in
1997, power is shared between the executive, legislative and
judicial authorities. The executive, the president and the
government, is accountable to Parliament. This has 58 seats,
of which 51 are elected in general elections for a five-year
term and five members are nominated by the president. Even
the president is elected for five years in general elections
and can be re-elected for an unlimited number of times.
The voting age is 18 years. Political parties can be
banned when national security is threatened. In 2001,
President Yahya Jammeh and Parliament approved a number of
constitutional amendments that would strengthen the
president's power, including an extended term of office for
seven years, but the referendum that would formally adopt
the amendments has not yet been implemented.
Yahya Jammeh, who took power in a military coup in 1994,
won the first four presidential elections held under the new
constitution. In the 1996 election he received close to 56
percent of the vote and in 2001 just under 53 percent. The
party founded by Jammeh, the Alliance for Patriotic
Reorientation and Construction (APRC), won a large
majority in the 1997 and 2002 parliamentary elections. than
half of the registered voters voted.
Ahead of the 2011 presidential election, four opposition
parties formed the Alliance United Front, whose
candidate Hamat Bah was one of two opponents of Jammeh; the
other was second in the last three elections, Ousainou
Darboe, representing the United Democratic Party.
Darboe again came second after Jammeh who was re-elected
with 71.5 percent of the vote. The election was decided in
advance by the West African cooperation organization ECOWAS
because of the prevailing situation in the country which
severely limits the opposition's ability to work and reach
out to voters. The election procedure, where ballot papers
are replaced by glass balls placed in labeled metal drums,
one for each candidate, has aroused some appearance.
After returning to multi-party systems, the Gambia was
able to gradually leave the economic isolation that the coup
brought. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how GA can stand for Gambia. Only in 2002, however, did the United States
abolish its sanctions. However, the country's economic
policy has attracted criticism from, among other things, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), which in 2003 withdrew
the support that was specifically aimed at reducing poverty
and stimulating growth. Jammeh's government was also
criticized for restricting media freedom. A new press law
passed in 2004 makes it possible to imprison journalists for
reporting that the authorities find exhilarating. President
Jammeh's grip on power over the years has gotten tougher and
reports of human rights violations have been common.
In the presidential election held on December 1, 2016,
Jammeh lost to opposition candidate Adama Barrow, who got 43
percent of the vote against just under 40 percent for Jammeh.
To the surprise of many, Jammeh, who then ruled the country
for 22 years, admitted defeat. Hopes for a peaceful change
of power were shattered shortly when Jammeh withdrew from
his previous statements and instead of accepting the defeat
demanded that the election be annulled by the Supreme Court.
Jammeh's term of office formally ended on January 18,
2017 and the day after the Barrow swore presidential oath at
the Gambia Embassy in neighboring Senegal. ECOWAS threatened
to intervene and military forces were placed at the
Senegal-Gambia border and, in some cases, also entered
Gambian territory. After the mediation of Presidents Mohamed
Ould Abdel Aziz, Mauritania, and Alpha Condé, Guinea, Jammeh
announced his resignation on January 21. He left the country
the same day and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Barrow promised that the former president would be
guaranteed all the rights of a Gambian citizen and former
head of state. ECOWAS strengthened its military presence in
Gambia to ensure security.
In the parliamentary elections held in April 2017, 31 of
the 53 electoral seats of the United Democratic Party
(UDP), a party of which Adama Barrow was a member, joined
until he took office as president. No other party received
more than five seats.
See also the section History.
When the Gambia became independent in 1965, it continued
to apply all laws and regulations that had been introduced
by the British. This included large parts of the rules in
force in England, but also England's unwritten common law.
Within however, family law allowed English law to compete
with African customary and religious law. The death penalty
remains in the penal code but is de facto abolished in 1981.
Heads of State
||Dawda Kairaba Jawara
||Yahya Jammeh *
* Jammeh was first chairman of the military council and
became president in 1996.