A ferry in Banjul, capital of The Gambia. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Lars Curfs (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Freedom House Rating
December 4, 2021
April 2022 (due)
March-April 2023 (due)
April 6, 2017
December 1, 2016
Gambia is due to hold a presidential election on December 4, 2021. Subsequently, legislative elections are due in April 2022.
In December 2016, The Gambia began a remarkable transition to democracy. Citizens removed dictator Yahya Jammeh – who had come to power in a coup and ruled with an iron fist for 22 years – peacefully, via the ballot box, in a surprising result. Opposition candidate Adama Barrow won the presidency with the backing of a coalition of seven opposition parties. The country then began the process of establishing democracy and recovering from Jammeh’s brutal dictatorship.
The subsequent parliamentary elections in April 2017 were generally judged as a free and fair.
However, Gambia’s road to democracy has not been smooth.
Although Barrow had initially promised to serve only one term, he looks likely to seek re-election, which has sparked controversy and protest. He launched a new political party, the National People’s Party (NPP), in early 2021. His strongest challenger will likely be Ousainou Darboe from the United Democratic Party (UDP), which had backed Barrow in 2016.
Marième Soumaré, The Africa Report (February 3, 2021): Gambia: Adama Barrow on his way to a second term in office
Modou Joof, Bloomberg (January 31, 2021): Gambian Leader Launches Party He’s Expected to Lead in Election
Omar Wally, DW (October 28, 2020): Gambia gets ready to swap marbles for ballot papers
Reuters (September 23, 2020): Gambia Opposition Laments Failure of Bid to Curb Term Limits
Jason Burke, The Guardian (January 28, 2020): Outcry over crackdown in the Gambia as president refuses to quit
The World (December 2, 2016): A stunning election victory for the opposition in West Africa’s The Gambia
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Updated February 15, 2021