Voting begins in Gambia’s parliamentary election

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Gambians use marbles to cast their votes - which are then counted on boards like this one

Voting is under way in The Gambia, where the electoral body has assured citizens of a free, fair and transparent process.

A total of 53 parliamentary seats are up for grabs.

Of the 245 candidates in the running 19 are women – that’s the highest number in the country’s history of legislative elections.

Five legislators, including the Speaker, will also be appointed by the president, then approved by parliament.

The Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission told the BBC it had taken steps to ensure adequate security ahead of Saturday’s poll.

Gambians famously use marbles to vote in elections, and the candidate with the highest number of marbles at the close of polls will be declared the winner.

Results are expected on Sunday. One of the main tasks facing the new legislative will be to vote for a new constitution – AFP reports that this is seen as essential by The Gambia’s international partners to strengthen its democracy and limit the president’s powers.

President Adama Barrow won the presidential election in December last year ahead of his rival and political mentor Ousainou Darboe.

That presidential vote was the country’s first since the departure of former ruler Yahya Jammeh in 2017.

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