parliamentary elections, APRC, elected president, new constitution, Civil actions
Until the military took over The Gambia’s government in a bloodless coup in 1994, the country was governed by a 1970 constitution. Under military President Yahya Jammeh, a new constitution was approved by public referendum in August 1996 and came into effect in January 1997. Under this constitution a popularly elected president serves as head of state for a five-year term. The president may serve an unlimited number of terms. The country’s legislative body is the unicameral National Assembly. Forty-eight of the legislature’s 53 members are popularly elected to five-year terms; the other 5 are appointed by the president. In parliamentary elections held in January 2002, 45 out of 48 elected seats went to members of Jammeh’s political party, the Alliance for Patriotic Reorganization and Cooperation (APRC).
The judicial system consists of a supreme court with unlimited jurisdiction, an appeal court, and subordinate magistrate and divisional courts. Civil actions between Muslim citizens are handled by special Muslim courts. Minor civil and criminal cases are tried in group tribunals.
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