Gambians were Thursday voting for a new parliament to further establish democracy in the West African nation after more than two decades of autocratic rule.
During the poll, the country’s first election since autocrat Yahya Jammeh went into exile in January, 239 candidates from nine political parties were competing for 48 seats in the national assembly.
Five additional seats would be appointed directly by President Adama Barrow, who took power on Jan. 19.
Report says there is much hope in the nation of 1.8 million people that the legislative election will provide Gambia with a functional national assembly that will help amend the wrongs committed during Jammeh’s regime.
“Jammeh, who ruled the Islamic Republic for 22 years with an iron fist, is widely accused of human rights violations, including torture and arbitrary arrests,’’ it noted.
The autocrat caused weeks of political impasse by refusing to accept the result of the December 2016 presidential election, which saw him lose power to Barrow.
After regional pressure and the threat of arrest by West African troops that had entered Gambia, Jammeh eventually conceded defeat and went into exile in Equatorial Guinea.
Mr. Barrow promised to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to ensure justice and reparations for the victims of Mr. Jammeh’s government.
The European Union has sent 50 election monitors to observe Thursday’s polls.
In addition, 20 observers from the Economic Community of West African States and 30 observers from the African Union were monitoring the election.
Polling stations are scheduled to close at 1600 GMT, while results are expected on Friday.