Gambia Starts Campaign for Parliament as Opposition Boycotts

Campaigning for Gambia’s March 29 parliamentary election began today, with President Yahya Jammeh’s ruling party facing no opposition in more than half of the legislative body’s seats.

The leader’s Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction will field candidates for all 48 seats, according to statement from the Independent Electoral Commission handed to reporters in Banjul, the capital, today. In 25 areas, the APRC contestant will face no opposition, according to the statement.

A group of opposition parties pledged not to take part in the election on March 8, calling for an end to barriers they say prevent them from being a viable opposition.

Twenty independent candidates and eight from the National Reconciliation Party have registered to run in the election, the commission said in the statement.

Jammeh won a fourth term in office in November, extending his 17-year year of the small West African nation that is bordered on three sides by Senegal. The Economic Community of West African States, an Abuja, Nigeria-based regional group, declined to send observers to the polls, saying the preparations for the vote and political environment weren’t conducive to a free and fair ballot.

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