By Alagie Manneh
Cabinet had wanted the Constitutional Review Commission to remove the section from the draft which, if passed, will bar President Barrow from contesting elections after 2021.
According to Section 5 of Schedule 3a person duly elected president of The Gambia prior to the effective date and serving in office as at the effective date of the new constitution, shall be the first president of the third republic and shall continue to hold the Office of President in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
This means that when the constitution comes into effect before the 2021 election, the incumbent President Barrow can only run in 2021 but not in future elections.
However, The Standard has learnt that when the initial draft was issued for public reaction, the Cabinet had expressed concern that some sections of the new draft are “retroactively discriminatory”.
While cabinet endorsed the two-term limit of the president, it expressed concern that President Barrow is unfairly targeted by the constitution.
“While the government fully endorses section 100 on the term of Office of the President, it is the government’s considered view that section 5 of Schedule 3 is retroactively discriminatory in its effect because it only affects and is intended to only affect the incumbent President,” Cabinet observed in a paper seen by The Standard.
The paper also highlights that Cabinet recognises CRC’s attempts to reflect the wishes and aspirations of the Gambian people, but rejected section 5 of Schedule 3 as “unjustifiable in law or as a good governance practice”.
“The government therefore encourages the CRC to delete section 5 of Schedule 3, and to further qualify the provisions of section 100(2) by making it effective from the coming into force of the draft constitution in order to avoid any ambiguities,” the paper states.
However, the section is still maintained in the final draft presented to President Barrow last month. The CRC had said it was the general sentiment of the majority of Gambians during their consultations.