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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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ASSEMBLY ACCUSED OF UNFAIRLY REMOVING TOUMA, OTHERS FROM ECOWAS PARLIAMENT

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By Omar Bah

The National Assembly has been accused of removing Banjul South NAM Fatoumatta Njai, Samba Jallow of Niamina Dankunku and Kebba Barrow of Kombo South from the Ecowas Parliament without following due process. Touma is allegedly replaced by nominated member Maimuna Ceesay.

The mandate of all the current National Assembly committees including the Ecowas Parliament committees as sanctioned by the plenary would expire in 2027.

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“I can reliably inform you that through the influence of the Speaker, the National Assembly Selection Committee has altered the decision of the plenary without its consent. They are deliberately targeting Touma Njai because of her radical approach to things,” a source told The Standard. The source added that the only approved committees are the ones approved in 2022 following the swearing in of the current parliament, adding that only the National Assembly plenary can sanction the changes.   

The National Assembly Selection Committee consists of the Speaker as chairperson, and five members, of whom three are nominated by the Majority Leader and two by the Minority Leader in consultation with their respective groups.

When contacted for comments, both the majority and minority leaders, Bilay G Tunkara and Alagie S Darboe declined to comment.

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However, an insider who is familiar with the case confirmed to The Standard that the National Assembly has indeed replaced the three mentioned NAMs.

“It was taken to the National Assembly plenary who approved the five names but when the names were submitted to the Ecowas Parliament they wrote back to inform the National Assembly that they cannot change the current members before the end of the Ecowas Parliament’s current term which ends this March,” the source added.

According to the source, the Ecowas Parliament had advised the National Assembly to replace the two MPs, Matarr Jeng of Lower Niumi and Muhammed Magassy of Basse Constituency, who lost their reelection bids.

“So, it was recently that the Ecowas Parliament wrote back to us to inform us that we can now send the names of our nominees because their term will end this March. So, when we received that communique from Ecowas we decided to forward them the same names that were approved by the plenary,” our source said.

The five names include; the Majority Leader and member for Kantora, Bilay Tunkara, Minority Leader and member for Brikama North, Alhagie S Darboe, nominated member Maimuna Ceesay, member for Jeshwang, Sheriff Sarr and Amadou Camara, member for Nianija. The representation at the Ecowas Parliament is based on party representation.

Asked whether Maimuna Ceesay, a nominated member was selected in the committee, the source tensely said: “Honourable Maimuna Ceesay is a National Assembly Member just like any other parliamentarian and she has voting powers just like any other MP.”

When contacted for comments, the Clerk of the National Assembly Modou Ceesay referred us to the director of communication Gibairou Janneh, who said the fact that there is currently no Ecowas Parliament, National Assembly cannot comment on that.

“Until we receive notification from the Ecowas Parliament that we should send our nominees, we cannot comment on the matter. If they are about to reconvene, they will communicate to us to request for our nominees,” he said.

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