Elections may still be more than a year away in The Gambia but President Adama Barrow’s new National People’s Party is facing a crucial bye-election for the vacant Niamina West constituency on November 7.Niamina West was being represented in the National Assembly by Gambia Democratic Party’s Demba Sowe until his death abroad in January 2020 rendered the constituency seat vacant.
It’s a two-horse race between Birom Sowe, whose nomination by Barrow’s National People’s Party (NPP) was given the all-clear by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Yerro Jallow, the GDC’s pick for the bye-election contest.
Barrow’s estranged United Democratic Party reputed as one of the biggest political movements in Gambia has not fielded a candidate for the Niamina West bye-election, saying the move is out of solidarity with the GDC after the death of its sitting MP for the constituency.
Gambia’s other political parties some of which sprouted on the scene in recent months are not fielding candidates.
Niamina West is one of ten administrative districts in Gambia’s Central River Region, where the dust of political campaign kicked up last week as NPP and GDC supporters go head-to-head ahead of the crucial vote.
The bye-election should have been held months after MP Sowe’s death but an outbreak of the coronavirus in The Gambia in March had prompted the IEC to prolong the wait to fill the Niamina West seat in the national assembly.
Observers of Gambia’s political scene say the bye-election will provide a crucial test for Barrow’s NPP ahead of next year’s presidential election.
“This is not necessarily a make or break exercise for Barrow and his NPP but it will offer a telling indication of what to expect in the next election” a local pundit tells the African Press Agency.
“But let’s say so many things are riding on the outcome of this bye-election and one of them is confidence going into 2021” the political commentator added.