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Gambian President Adama Barrow’s party won the weekend parliamentary elections but failed to secure a majority needed to govern the West African country, Radio France Internationale reported.
The election commission said that Barrow’s National People’s Party won 19 of the 53 contested seats, defeating the main opposition United Democratic Party, which claimed 15 seats.
Barrow can also designate five other lawmakers, including the parliament’s speaker, who will be selected from his party. Even so, he was not able to win an absolute majority in the 58-seat legislature.
The parliamentary elections were seen as integral in consolidating the young African democracy and drafting a new constitution, according to Africa News.
West Africa’s regional bloc also sent election observers to the small nation, Al Jazeera noted.
The vote come less than a year after Barrow won the December presidential elections, a poll that was largely seen as a test of the country’s democratic stability.
Until 2016, the Gambia was ruled by autocratic leader Yahya Jammeh, whose regime had been accused of atrocities, including assassinations and torture. Jammeh’s rule ended after he lost the 2016 presidential elections to Barrow. He later fled the country following a military intervention led by West Africa’s regional bloc.
One of the key tasks of the new parliament will be to draft a new constitution, which the Gambia’s international partners see as essential to strengthen its democracy and limit the president’s power.
Barrow vowed to implement constitutional changes before the end of his tenure, but the outgoing parliament rejected a proposed constitutional reform limiting the president to two terms in September 2020.
The president has also been urged to respond to recommendations from a commission that probed state crimes perpetrated under Jammeh’s rule.