By Omar Bah
Momodou Lamin Sedat Jobe, a former Gambian ambassador and respected foreign minister, has urged President Adama Barrow to support Halifa Sallah’s motion seeking to reintroduce the draft constitution bill which was rejected by the National Assembly in September.
The Serekunda lawmaker asked the Speaker to allow him to make a motion seeking to reintroduce the draft constitution bill but his bid was rejected.
The Barrow government has since turned to mediation specialist and former Nigerian president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan to help find consensus on the draft constitution ahead of its planned return to the National Assembly.
Jonathan’s first attempt to find a consensus in three days’ intensive discussions with the country’s political parties didn’t make much headway but the former Nigerian leader is expected to return to the country soon to continue the mediations.
But Dr Sedat Jobe in an exclusive interview with The Standard yesterday, said: “I believe that the president should support the initiative of Halifa Sallah. He should be able to talk to Sallah, other political party leaders and the Speaker of the National Assembly so that the bill Halifa wanted to present be rapidly approved by the parliament so that they can take over its responsibility.”
He said all the National Assembly members should also be informed that the bill must go to its second reading “so that we could be able to have a constitution before the election.”
“I will ask the president to politely thank former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan for the fraternal attitude he took in coming to The Gambia to help us. But we know President Jonathan has no role to play or any mediation to make in this internal matter of The Gambia. To avoid any embarrassment for someone who has led a big nation like Nigeria, we should quickly act through our parliament so that his coming back would not be necessary,” Dr Jobe said.
He added that although the intentions of getting Dr Jonathan to mediate on the resurrection of the constitution are good “the president has not been helped because any man with his right senses and had the opportunity to analyse the occasions of how the constitution was rejected, should realise that the problems raised were purely Gambian problems and there are enough legally and constitutionally minded people here who could have solved it.
“Barrow should realise that getting this constitution through and showing a lot of generosity by not insisting on his first five-years not to be counted will give him much more international recognition and political legacy than building a hundred of roads and bridges,” he said.
Dr Jobe said the fact that President Barrow had declared on Eye-Africa TV that if he was at the parliament, he would have voted yes to the draft tconstitution, means he approved its provision on a 5-year two-term limit, including his present five-year term.
He said neither the Secretary General of the United Nations nor the president of the European Union or the president of the African Union would be able to mediate in Gambia’s constitutional crisis. “It is our problem and we will have to solve it our own way,” he said.
“If we allow our indifference with this constitution to drag until we go to the next election, it will be held in a very flimsy atmosphere,” he warned.
Dr Jobe further argued that if the president is able to have a constitution, see to it that the army is fully functional, get the departure of Ecomig in dignity without any commotion, “we will get out of the whole thing with our heads up and we will start a new Gambia where the international community and the donor community will respect us and feel they are working with a sovereign state.”
Dr Jobe finally urged the National Assembly to convene an extraordinary session purposely on the draft constitution to ensure it goes to a referendum early this year.