The Gambia is a republic with strong presidential
power. According to the constitution, democracy and
multiparty systems should prevail, but under President
Yahya Jammeh (1994–2016) the opposition was held in
tight rein. Despite this, an opposition candidate Adama
Barrow surprisingly won the 2016 presidential election
and Jammeh was forced out of power following a military
intervention by the regional cooperation organization
Prior to the return to civilian rule after the 1994
military coup (see Modern History), a new constitution
was drawn up, which came into force in January 1997.
According to it, the executive, legislative and judicial
powers must be separated.
Total population and chart of Gambia for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The president is elected every five years in general
elections and has far-reaching powers as head of state
and government as well as commander-in-chief. The
President appoints the government. There are no
restrictions on re-election. The government is
responsible for both the President and the National
The National Assembly is responsible for the
legislation. Of its 58 members, 53 are elected in
general elections every five years while five are
elected by the president (at the second most recent
election, 2012, the number of eligible seats was 48).
The voting age is 18 years.
In 2001, the National Assembly and the President
adopted a series of constitutional amendments aimed at
strengthening the presidential power, for example, the
term of office of the president would be extended to
seven years. However, constitutional amendments must be
approved in a referendum before they can take effect,
and none have yet been held. After the change of power
in 2017, the upper age limit of 65 years that previously
existed for the president and the vice president has
The Gambia is divided into six administrative
"divisions" one of which is defined as the city
(Banjul). The divisions have a council with a majority
of elected members.
Political parties are allowed since the new
constitution came into force, but they can be banned if
the security of the nation is considered threatened. The
parties lack clear ideological orientation and are
mainly organized around a leader. During President Yahya
Jammeh's time as President (1994–2016), the opposition
was weak and divided and opposition politicians were
constantly at risk of being arrested or in various ways
harassed by the security forces.
Yahya Jammeh has strong control over the
military-backed party Alliance for Patriotic
Reorientation and Construction (Alliance for
Patriotic Reorientation and Construction, APRC)
which dominated parliament for twenty years from 1997
APRC was established for the presidential election in
1996 to support Jammeh's candidacy.
A new opposition party, the Gambia Democratic
Congress (Gambia Democratic Congress, GDC), was
founded in spring 2016 by dissatisfied members of the
APRC. It said it wanted to pursue a social democratic
Ahead of the December 2016 presidential election, a
number of opposition parties merged into an alliance
that supported Adama Barrow. (GDC put up with its own
The opposition alliance broke up, however, again
ahead of elections in April 2017. The election was won
by far of the former opposition party, the United
Democratic Party (United Democratic Party, UDP)
led by human rights lawyer Ousainou Darboe. APCR
received only a handful of mandates, as steam as GDC.
Other parties in Parliament are the National
Reconciliation Party (NRP), the People's
Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism
(the People's Democratic Organization for
Independence and Socialism, PDOIS), the old
government party, the People's Progressive Party
Hundreds accused of "witchcraft"
24th of March
Hundreds of villagers in the Foni Kansala district are accused of practicing
witchcraft. They are arrested by the police and taken to a camp. "Witch
expellers", called in from Guinea and Burkina Faso, force them to drink a brew
that causes kidney problems. At least six villagers die. According to the human
rights organization Amnesty International , the background to the witchcraft
accusations against the villagers is that President Yahya Jammeh believes that
"witchcraft" was behind the death of a close relative
Opposition leaders are arrested
Halifa Sallah, leader of the opposition party People's Democratic
Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) and editor of the Foroyaa
newspaper, are arrested and charged with slander after sounding alarm about the
witch's expulsion. Sallah, who was arrested several times earlier by the
authorities, is released a few weeks later.
Journalists are convicted of slander
Six journalists are sentenced to two years in prison and fined for slander
and incitement. The convicted have criticized President Jammeh and his
government in connection with the unsolved murder of the editor-in-chief of The
Imprisoned journalists are pardoned
The six imprisoned journalists (see July 2009) are pardoned
after pressure from the outside world, including the EU.
Senior soldiers are dismissed
The country's chief of the armed forces, Lang Tombong Tamba, and four other
high-ranking military commanders are dismissed. It is initially unclear why they
are forced to leave their posts.