Country Risk

Gambian president's party secures outright majority and Senegalese military assistance to manage difficult task of security reform

19 April 2017

Key Points

  • The new government has a clear mandate to carry out wide-ranging institutional reforms and overhaul the security services.
  • Post-election violence in the deposed president's home region is likely to be repeated as loyalist security forces attempt to restore control there.
  • There is minimal risk of occasional armed confrontations escalating into insurgency or attempted coups thanks to the continued presence of troops from neighbour Senegal.


President Adama Barrow saw his United Democratic Party dominate Gambia's first free and fair election for decades, as support for the former ruling party collapsed.

President Adama Barrow prepares to cast his vote in Gambia's legislative election on 6 April 2017. (PA)President Adama Barrow prepares to cast his vote in Gambia's legislative election on 6 April 2017. (PA)

The United Democratic Party (UDP) of newly elected President Adama Barrow won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections on 6 April as Gambia completed a democratic transition from 22 years of dictatorship under Yahya Jammeh. The UDP took 31 of the 53 seats available, after the seven parties forming the coalition which Barrow represented against Jammeh in the 1 December 2016 presidential poll decided to compete as separate entities. The Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) created by Jammeh in 1996, two years after he seized power in a coup, saw its support collapse, as expected, as it lost 38 of its 43 seats to end up with just five.

Among the UDP's coalition partners, the National Reconciliation Party (NRP) of veteran Hamat Bah took five seats. The NRP was the only opposition party represented in the previous parliament, with just one seat, after breaking ranks with a boycott of the 2012 poll called because elections were not free and fair. Two other coalition parties shared six seats, but three did not win any, including the Gambia Moral Congress led by Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty.

Along with the APRC's five seats, the only other opposition party to win seats was the youth-orientated Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) led by Mama Kandeh, who finished third in the presidential election.

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