Nearly 800,000 registered voters in The Gambia are expected to have gone to the polls on Thursday 11/24/11 to cast their ballots through the West African country in the presidential elections in polls tipped to hand incumbent Yahya Jammeha fourth term at the helm of the tiny tropical state which he is accused of ruling through fear and repression for 17 years. i

Three candidates were contesting for the presidential seat including President Yahya Jammeh of the ruling Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction, Ousainou Kunda Darboe of the United Democrarcy Party and Hamat Ngany Kumba bah, an independent. All candidates were male. President Jammeh is said to have said that he would not campaign because his victory was a “foregone conclusion” and only God could remove him from power.ii

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) presided over the elections for the third time since its inception in 1997. Currently, there are 10 registered political parties and a set total of 1302 polling stations for 796,929 voters.iii With about half of the nation of 1.7 million said to be illiterate, the country uses a unique voting system in which a marble is entered into a small hole in a metal drum bearing the colour, symbol and photo of each candidate.iv Jammeh's re-election to a new five-year term looks almost certain after 17 years of rule that began with a 1994 bloodless coup, and has since been marked by lethal crackdowns on protests, mass arrests of opponents and military reshuffles.

ECOWAS, in an unusually strong criticism of a member state, said it would not send a mission to observe the poll "because the preparations and political environment ... are adjudged by the Commission not to be conducive for the conduct of free, fair and transparent polls".v


However the African Union (AU), the Commonwealth and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) did send teams to observe the presidential elections in The Gambia. The Commonwealth expert team stated that it would assess the overall conduct of the elections, and the environment in which they take place, and where appropriate will make recommendations for strengthening of the electoral process in future.


Women Representation

Women in Gambia are under represented in the top hierarchy of decision making positions. The factors that hinder women’s advancement and leadership are identified as low levels of education and training, socio-cultural factors and poverty. Women constitute 51 % of the population and their fertility rate is 6.1. Most of the women live in the rural areas and are engaged in agricultural production, food processing and marketing. They are thus the main producers of food. Despite their huge investments in food production, women constitute 70% of the unskilled agricultural labor force. Land in the rural areas is scarce due to factors like environmental degradation, lack of access and control to land by women.


Women constitute 51% of the population but their numerical strength is not reflected in the number of positions they hold in the public sphere of decision making. In the civil service they are 21% of the work force of whom majority are employed in administrative and support positions rather than in managerial (UN 2005, Common Country Assessment the Gambia).

Women constitute 58% of voters and they exercise their franchise during elections. In the 2006 elections for the National Assembly of 54 members, only 1 woman was elected through the ballot box, 1 was returned unopposed and 3 were nominated (Electoral Report 2006). Female representation in the National Assembly is 13 % and falls far below that recommended by the Inter Parliamentary Union and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

According to the Female Lawyer Association of The Gambia(FLAG), women constitute the majority of registered voters, and they are always instrumental in the successes of all political parties during However, of the 53 members of parliament, there are only four women-two elected and two nominated, including deputy speaker.

But with the National Assembly elections coming up early 2012 and local government in 2013, there is a urgent call on political parties to put measures in place to have greater female representation at the parliament and local government levels.


Election Results: Friday 25th November 2011. President Yahya Jammeh wins fourth term with 72 of the vote.vii

Future Elections: Legislative, March 2012



Women’s Political Participation Recent Statistics

Political Representation- National Assembly


As per January 2007


Female Members of Parliament-Unicameral



Female Ministers




Go to top