Gambia ruling coalition breaks up ahead of April poll

Barrow had promised in January following his surprise defeat of Jammeh that the coalition would “continue as a family”.

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The Gambia’s ruling coalition has broken apart ahead of a parliamentary poll next month, dealing a blow to new President Adama Barrow as he overhauls the country’s political system following his shock election victory.

Nine political parties will run separately in the April 6 election, seven of which had united last December to oust veteran leader Yahya Jammeh, who ruled the tiny west African nation with an iron fist for 22 years.

Barrow had promised in January following his surprise defeat of Jammeh that the coalition would “continue as a family”.

But documents issued by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on Monday showed that 239 candidates will stand in April, representing nine separate organisations, with some running as independents.

The national assembly was long seen as a rubber stamp for Jammeh’s executive decrees, but the new president has promised to work in tandem with lawmakers, notably on constitutional reform in the former British colony.

The coalition split is likely to embolden Jammeh’s Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC), which remains a major force in Gambian politics although the former president is now in exile in Equatorial Guinea.

The APRC took 43 of the 48 seats contested during the last parliamentary election in 2012, which was boycotted by the vast majority of opposition parties.

Five seats are also appointed by the president to give an overall 53 seats.

Barrow had barely finished putting his cabinet together before disagreements broke out last week over the poll, with one senior government source warning at the time that talks for an ongoing alliance were close to collapse.

Disagreements over representation and allocation of seats had caused tensions, the source said.

Barrow was formerly a member of the United Democratic Party (UDP), the largest opposition grouping in the Jammeh era, but resigned to run as the coalition candidate.

Campaign for the poll begins on Wednesday and ends on April 4.

Source: AFP

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