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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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REPORT URGES GOV’T TO REDRAW CONSTITUENCIES

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By Omar Bah

A new report has urged the government to redistrict electoral boundaries for fairer political representation.

The report was authored by academics and political scientists Dave Manneh and Essa Njie of the Brusubi-based Centre for Research and Policy Development (CRPD) which describes itself as “a non-profit, and non-partisan social research, advocacy, learning and capacity building organisation committed to promoting inclusive democratic governance” in The Gambia.

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The report stated that with 359,451 registered voters, the current 12 constituencies in the Brikama administrative area should be increased to 20. However, it recommended that Foñi, which has five constituencies with 39,711 voters, should return to the old arrangement of just two constituencies.

“This could be done by merging the current constituencies – Foñi Brefet (9,124), Foñi Bintang (10,969), Foñi Kansala (9,568), Foñi Bondali (4,767), and Foñi Jarrol (5,283) into Foñi East and Foñi West,” it stated.

The report contended that with 21,372 registered voters in the capital, the three constituencies of Banjul should be merged into one given the average numbers per constituency of 17,817.

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It also recommended that the electoral districts in the Kanifing municipality should be increased from seven to ten and that Latrikunda Sabiji constituency which is made up of the communities of Latrikunda Sabiji, Fajikunda, and Abuko with a voter population of 36,851 should be split into two constituencies to ensure fairer representation.

Serekunda and Bakau they argued, should remain as separate constituencies with voter populations of 13,969 and 13,869.

“Equally, compared to Banjul South, with 6,248 registered voters, Serekunda West has a voter population of 44,387. This significant disparity justifies the need to split Serekunda West into three constituencies,” it added.

The report recommended that Kombo South should be divided into four constituencies, given its current voter population of 62,399, while Busumbala, Sannehmentereng, and Old Yundum constituencies, each with voter populations of a little over 50,000, should each be divided further into three constituencies.

“Kombo East with a voter population of 25,643 can be maintained as a constituency while Brikama North (36,755 voters) and Brikama South (37,720 voters) should each be split into two,” it stated.

The report further suggested that it would be fairer to merge some constituencies in the Kerewan administrative area with a voter population of 109,262, and that half of the region’s constituencies do not meet the criteria of the hypothetical mean per constituency of 17,817.

It added that the constituencies of Jokadu (11,357), Lower Baddibu (8,917), Central Baddibu (9,475), and Sabach Sanjal (12,577), a combined total of 42,326 registered voters, should be redrawn and Lower Baddibu and Central Baddibu be merged into a single constituency to reduce the number of constituencies from seven to six.

CRPD highlighted that Mansa Konko administrative area has six constituencies and 54,456 registered voters, which is smaller than the registered voters in Kombo South alone. It therefore recommended that the constituencies be redrawn and reduced to three with Jarra Central (5,981) and Jarra East (10,996) merged.

It further recommended that Kiang East (5,053), Kiang Central (7,000) and Kiang West (10,381) be merged into a single Kiang constituency while Jarra West with 15,045 registered voters should remain as it is.

The report also urged government to reduce the constituencies in Janjangbureh administrative with its 119,606 registered voters from its current eleven to seven.

“Constituencies like Janjangbureh with 1,600 registered voters, Niamina Dankunku with 3,784, Nianija with 5,030, and Niamina West with 5,085 registered voters should be merged with other constituencies for fair representation,” it stated.

However, the authors suggested that Basse administrative area should be allowed to maintain its current seven constituencies given its 118,210 registered voters and the hypothetical mean of 17,817 voters per constituency.

Democracy, the report added, cannot be strengthened in the absence of fair political representation, especially in the legislative branch of government.

“This position paper argues that the current electoral boundary definition clearly manifests unfair political representation”.

“As part of the electoral boundaries review process, consider the creation of constituencies or at least, a constituency outside of the country that would facilitate the extension of franchise to diaspora Gambians. The executive, parliament, and the IEC should play this role through the needed electoral reform,” the report concluded.

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