By Omar Bah
After lawmakers failed to agree on the extension of the state of emergency, President Adama Barrow last night invoked a constitutional power to ensure a continuation of the emergency for the next 21 days.
In his 5th address to the nation since the emergence of Covid-19 in March, Barrow said: “In light of this, I have invoked the powers conferred on me by Section 34(6) of the 1997 Constitution to further declare by proclamation published in the gazette, effective today, 19th May 2020, that a state of public emergency continues to exist in the whole of The Gambia. Since the National Assembly is no longer in session, this state of public emergency shall last for 21 days in accordance with Section 34(2) of the Constitution.
“Accordingly, I have also re-issued the emergency regulations that were in force before the state of public emergency expired. They include the regulations declared on 26th March 2020 and extended by the National Assembly on 3rd April 2020.
“These re-issued emergency regulations shall also continue to be in force in line with the proclamation that I have made today. I call on the general public to appreciate that this is in the best interest of the whole nation, and I pray that the Almighty God continues to bless and strengthen us as a united people.”
President Barrow said it is his responsibility to protect lives of citizens after what he described as the National Assembly’s failure to “act on its powers.”
He added: “The 1997 Constitution has empowered the National Assembly, and provided it with the responsibility under these circumstances to support the Government’s efforts to combat Covid-19 under Section 34(5) of the Constitution. With regret, however, our August Assembly has failed to act on its powers.
“As a result, my Government and I owe it to the people of this country to protect them from this grave danger. It is my duty to act, and it amounts to a deadly abdication of responsibility if I fail to take the right action in the face of an obvious threat to the lives of our people.”
He said experts have predicted a staggering number of infections if measures are not taken to contain its spread in the country, with at least 9000 estimated deaths.
“Based on their professional opinion, our health experts have predicted that if the right measures are not taken to successfully break the chain of transmission in the country, over 180,000 people will be infected in The Gambia. This will result in an estimated death toll of over 9,000 people,” he said.