By Alagie Manneh
Lawyer Lamin J Darbo has maintained his opinion that the appointment of executive coordinators by the president is unconstitutional, a day after State House defended them as legitimate and not interfering with the affairs of the local governments.
According to State House, the lawyer, in his legal argument overlooked crucial aspects of the constitution in the governance setup, adding that the president “acted well within the legal framework in the introduction of the offices of area coordinators in Banjul and KM”.
But in an interview with King FM, Lamin Darbo said: “The person who wrote the State House’s statement has no idea of what he/she is saying. What I relied on was the law, and that is the president doesn’t have the powers to appoint executive coordinators in KMC and Banjul City Council (BCC). In fact, the president doesn’t have the power to appoint even governors in regions if those governors and those executive coordinators are going to be meddling in the running of the affairs of local government authorities.”
Mr Darbo further contended that the illegality of the appointments is not in question. “What section 80 is referring to is the president’s powers to appoint? Yes, he can establish a position, but he cannot establish it if it will interfere in the running of the affairs of bodies like the local government authorities.
According to section 193 of the constitution, local government authorities should govern themselves in every way and form. The government has no business in how they choose to govern themselves. I read the statement from State House, and what they said about The Gambia being a unitary state is true, but it’s in the same unitary state Gambia that has court systems and a National Assembly, yet the law forbids the president from meddling in the affairs of those institutions. So, let them go and look at section 80 again. The person who wrote the statement is not a lawyer, and doesn’t know what section 80 actually states.”
Asked to expound on the consequences of the president’s intention to push ahead with the appointments, Mr Darbo stated: “Potentially, this could go to the courts. And I think it should go to the courts for all to be clear once and for all. When the president was dismissing Ya Kumba Jaiteh, he insisted that he had the powers to do so but the courts said he had no powers. The president has no authority to meddle in the running of the affairs of the local councils.”