Africa, Headlines

GAMBIA-POLITICS: Jammeh Triumphs In Parliamentary Elections

BANJUL, Jan 4 1997 (IPS) - Gambian President Yahya Jammeh remained firmly in power in The Gambia Saturday after his Patriotic Alliance for Reorientation and Construction (APRC) swept to an overwhelming win in parliamentary elections meant to return the nation to civilian rule.

The APRC took 33 of the 45 seats up for grabs in Thursday’s elections, according to final results of voting issued by the independent electoral commission.

Jammeh, the 31 year-old army officer who seized power in a 1994 coup, said the election “put in place a sovereign assembly and thus will end the military regime.”

Jammeh’s party campaigned on a programme of agricultural reform for The Gambia – the tiny finger of land in West Africa that relies on peanuts and tourism for much of its foreign exchange – and giant infrastruture projects, including a major east-west highway built with Taiwanese aid.

Opposition groups claimed Jammeh had denied them access to the state- run media won 10 seats. Seven went to the United Democratic Party (UDP) of lawyer Ousainou Darboe, two to the Party of National Reconciliation (PRN) and the Marxist People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) picked up one seat. Independent candidates were successful in two constituencies.

The former colonel who overthrew the government of Sir Dawda Jawara, long-time ruler of the former British colony, won the Presidential election in September last year.

Jammeh secured nearly 56 percent of the vote amid allegations of voting fraud. Darboe took 35.8 percent of the vote despite military obstruction. He took refuge for several days in the Senegalese embassy declaring he feared for his life after the result of the presidential poll.

Elections to return The Gambia to civilian rule had been demanded by Britain as a condition for the restoration of economic aid to this country – once a popular holiday destination for Britons.

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