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Gambians Vote in Parliamentary Elections

An election agent directs a voter at a polling station in Bakau on April 6, 2017.

Gambians are going to the polls Thursday to vote in the first parliamentary elections since long-time president Yahya Jammeh was voted out of office last year.

The results will be crucial for new President Adama Barrow, who will need his party to gain a majority in parliament in order to implement many of the policies he promised during his campaign.

While many Gambians were excited about exercising their new freedoms under a democratically elected president, voter turnout Thursday was surprisingly low as many Jammeh supporters stayed at home, according to the Independent Electoral Commission.

Over 880,000 Gambians are eligible to choose from 293 candidates in 53 constituencies to potentially change the parliamentary majority that has not changed in 22 years.

Barrow was declared the winner of the December 1 presidential election. Jammeh, who came to power in Banjul in 1994 during a coup, at first conceded defeat, but then changed his mind and refused to hand over power, citing mistakes allegedly committed by Gambia's Independent Electoral Commission.