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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Assembly says new Ombudsman must first resign from his job

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By Omar Bah

Lawmakers yesterday referred President Adama Barrow’s choice of Ombudsman Bakary Sanyang to the National Assembly Public Appointment Committee for scrutiny.
The assembly also requested that Mr Sanyang resign from his current position as Governor of West Coast Region and submit his resignation to the committee with immediate effect.
The president’s first pick for the Ombudsman Babucarr Suwareh was rejected by lawmakers.

The vice president Dr Isatou Touray returned to the National Assembly with a new name, Bakary Sanyang.
She said the nomination of Mr Sanyang was done following consultations with the Public Service Commission.

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“In coming with this replacement, due regard has been made to Section 164 (1) of the constitution which stipulates that where the National Assembly rejects a person nominated by the president, it shall not again reject the person nominated to replace him,” VP Touray said.

Mr Sanyang has about 42 years’ work experience in Gambia’s public service in which he rose from the ranks of income tax cadre to Commissioner General of GRA.
He also served as income tax consultant under the Ecowas Commission and governor of WCR, a position he holds until his new appointment.

Halifa Sallah of Serekunda stood and insisted that Bakary Sanyang’s appointment as the new Ombudsman should still be sent to the committee on public appointments.
“If we confirm this now we are complicit, we are aiders and a betters of the violation of the constitution and this National Assembly must never be found guilty of that,” Sallah said.
He argued: “It is very clear from Section 164 that if we reject the first, we cannot reject the second. But still the section remains that the person shall appoint an ombudsman and his or her deputies in consultation with the Public Service Commission subject to confirmation by the National Assembly.”

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Further justifying his arguments, Sallah said: “We cannot reject but confirmation is our right and that can never be negated because the issue is not only being qualified but also being disqualified. That’s what the scrutiny requires.”

However,a former senior public administration official Dodou Jawneh disagreed with the NAMs. Writing on his Facebook page, he explained: “The NAMs referring the confirmation of the appointment of the new ombudsman back to the government on the basis that the post holder could not hold another office in the public service is a reinforcement of red tape in the functioning of the public service. The purpose of the provision is to ensure that the post holder does not hold another public service position, concurrently.

The provision did not stipulate that the individual nominated for the post shall resign from any public service job he or she holds, as Hon Jatta and Sallah appeared to have suggested. The PSC Regulations provide for other mechanisms, other than resignation, which enables public servants to move from one role to the other through secondment and transfers, for instance, and ensuring that post holders do not hold two posts at the same time. The nominee for the post of ombudsman is currently a Governor and I believe that the Assembly could take the PSC Regulations into account, which do not in any way conflict with the spirit of the constitutional guidelines for the appointment of the Ombudsman, and confirm the appointment. This way, the long awaited appointment would be effected and the citizens relying on the services of the office of the Ombudsman would not suffer unduly.’’

Emergency committee
The lawmakers also considered and approved the motion to establish a special select committee to perform oversight and monitor the implementation of the state of public emergency.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambadou has announced the withdrawals of the Women’s (amendment of discriminatory laws) Bill, 2019 and the Information and Communication (amendment) Bill, 2019.
The Minister said the withdrawal of the bills is meant to give both his ministry and the ministry of information to make further consultations.

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