Before the 1994 coup d'état, The Gambia was one of the oldest existing multi-party democracies in Africa. It had conducted freely contested elections every five years since independence. After the coup, politicians from deposed President Jawara's People's Progressive Party (PPP) and other senior government officials were banned from participating in politics until July 2001.
A presidential election took place in September 1996, in which retired Col. Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh won 56% of the vote. Four registered opposition parties participated in the October 18, 2001, presidential election, which the incumbent, President Jammeh, won with almost 53% of the votes. The APRC maintained its strong majority in the National Assembly in legislative elections held in January 2002, particularly after the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) boycotted the legislative elections.
Jammeh won the 2006 election handily after the opposition coalition, the National Alliance for Development and Democracy, splintered earlier in the year. The voting was generally regarded as free and fair, though events from the run-up raised criticism from some. A journalist from the state television station assigned to the chief opposition candidate, Ousainou Darboe, was arrested. Additionally, Jammeh said, "I will develop the areas that vote for me, but if you don't vote for me, don't expect anything ."
On the 21st and 22 March 2006, amid tensions preceding the 2006 presidential elections, an alleged planned military coup was uncovered. President Yahya Jammeh was forced to return from a trip to Mauritania, many suspected army officials were arrested, and prominent army officials, including the army chief of staff, fled the country.
There are claims circulating that this whole event was fabricated by the President incumbent for his own purposes; however, the veracity of these claims is not known, as no corroborating evidence has yet been brought forward.
The 1970 constitution, which divided the government into independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches, was suspended after the 1994 military coup. As part of the transition process, the AFPRC established the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) through decree in March 1995. In accordance with the timetable for the transition to a democratically elected government, the commission drafted a new constitution for The Gambia, which was approved by referendum in August 1996. The constitution provides for a strong presidential government, a unicameral legislature, an independent judiciary, and the protection of human rights