After 200 years of British Colonial rule, The Gambia became independent on 18th February 1965
and 5 years later in April 1970-adopted a republican constitution. Over the years, the Gambia
has gained an international reputation as a land of peace and tranquillity and universally
regarded as the most stable country in Africa, with a human rights record amongst the world's
best. The Gambia, multi-party Republic within the Commonwealth, is administered by an
Executive President. Under the current constitution general elections through secret ballots
are held every five years to elect candidates who constitute the country's House of Parliament.
For administrative purposes the country is divided into The Capital and Seat of Government
together with the adjoining Kombo St. Mary and the provinces are in turn divided into five
Divisions, each headed by a Commissioner who is the administrative head. These divisions, are
further sub-divided into 35 districts locally administered by Seyfolu (chiefs). Each district
covers a number of villages and settlements with the Alkalo as the village head.
The Gambia's present Constitution came into force on 24th April 1970, when the country became
a republic. Its major provisions are summarised below:
- Executive power is vested in the President of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.
Following a constitutional amendment in March 1982, the President is elected by direct universal
suffrage, and serves five-year term. The President appoints the vice-president, who is leader
of government business in the House of Representatives, and other Cabinet Ministers from
members of the House.
- Legislative power is vested in the unicameral House of Representatives, with 50 members:
36 elected by universal adult suffrage, Five Head Chiefs (elected by the Chiefs in Assembly),
Eight non-voting nominated members and the Attorney-General.
- Since the Military take-over on July 22nd 1994, the AFPRC Government has made a few
amendments to the constitution of The Gambia's but the Judiciary has remained the same.
The new government has also established a constitutional review commission (CRC) which is
charged with the responsibility of reviewing the present constitution in order to make it
more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the people of The Gambia.
- Both the British and United States governments as well as the United Stations Development
Programme (UNDP) provided technical and financial assistance to The Gambia for the
AFPRC Transition Programme for economic and social development and the smooth return to
democratic civilian rule in July 1996.
The Gambia judicial system is similar to the system found in most countries with Common Law
Jurisdiction. There is only one system of courts which form a hierarchy. The subordinate
courts consist of (a) Khadis (Muslim) Courts, (b) District tribunals, and (c) Magistrates
courts. These courts have limited jurisdiction to hear both civil and criminal matters.
At the higher level, there are the Supreme Court and The Gambia Court of Appeal.
FOR FURTHER DETAILS
The Department of State for Tourism and Culture
Fax: (220) 227753
Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zones Agency
5 Nelson Mandela Street,
P.O. Box 757
Fax: (220) 222829