CAN BARROW CONCEDE
TO 3-YEAR TERM?
Halifa Sallah of the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism, PDOIS, has said yesterday that the objective of the Coalition in the National Assembly is to reform the Constitution and to humble the executive, which he said President Barrow has agreed to.
Sallah went on to say that the first humbling would have been to concede to the 3 year term agreed by the coalition which will require Constitutional amendment where a provision will have to be introduced in the 1997 Constitution that will assert that upon resignation or vacation of the seat of the Presidency for any cause, the Vice President will act for 90 days thereafter presidential election shall be held. “But at the moment that provision is not in the Constitution therefore as it stands, Barrow has a 5 year term. But if it is injected in and he agrees then he would be able to resign after 3 years and presidential election would be held,” Sallah said at press conference at the PDOIS Bureau in Churchill’s Town.
Expanding, Hon. Sallah said the objective of the Coalition as far as PDOIS is concerned is to put an end to self-perpetuating rule and build a democracy which will allow the supreme Gambian people to make an undiluted choice of leadership.
He said such a desire requires the transformation of instruments and institutions as well as practices. “This is what directed PDOIS in terms of the National Assembly election so as to fulfill that three year mandate to be the bright example of how self-perpetuating rule would be amputated for good from the politics of this country. It was our conviction that if President Barrow leads the example of limiting his own term then no other leader will ever emerge again that will go beyond two terms,” Sallah said.
He continued to say that that bright example is what PDOIS has always focused on throughout the campaign, “to emphasize to the Gambian people that we were destined to build a principled political programme base on the foundation of building one Gambia, one nation and one people.; to put partisan politics aside, ethno-linguistic politics aside, tribal and religious politics aside and any form of divisive or any form of parochial politics aside so that for the first time in our history we will build a nation”.
He said they also agreed that there be security of tenure to the Independent Electoral Commission in terms of the appointment by the President as it happened before. He argued that this will prevent the full control of the executive to appoint the members of the IEC. “The security of tenure for the National Assembly themselves is another issue as the previous government had been removing the members through the back door by simply driving them away from their parties by exploiting a particular provision of the Constitution,” Sallah said.
He further disclosed that the chiefs are very vulnerable and the local government needs reevaluation to ensure that the decentralization process will actually be a reality. He said this will prevent the local authorities from being subjected to any form of dictation by the executive in any manner.
“There are key legislative packages and also key issues of how to ensure greater participation of women at the level of the cabinet, in the National Assembly and in the Councils. That debate is unfolding between the inter-party committee and the political parties and the government.
“What is now evident and the greatest fear that one have before is political party influence to have undue bearing on the decision making process of the executive. So have we escaped what we wanted to escape? That is the fundamental question that the nation must address. What we as PDOIS feared is precisely that and that fear is yet to be allayed as we look at the composition of the cabinet, the composition of the National Assembly in terms of nomination of members and the composition of the Ambassadorial posts. So it means that the nation must be alert to who occupy what post. And have we gone more into technical considerations rather than partisan considerations? Are they been filled by the obligations owed by the executive or the obligations owed by the people and the nation. These are fundamental issues to PDOIS and we want to put it before the nation and Gambians as tropical issues.”
He said one problem that has been averted is the problem of threatening the executive in terms of legislative interventions. He said the National Assembly could pass a vote of no confidence on the executive but that could only be done with 2/3 majority. He said the 31 seats occupied by the United Democratic Party do not provide the legislative cloud to be able to threaten the executive. He said the same composition cannot give any particular party to make any Constitutional amendment without being passed by the 2/3 majority of the house members. However, he also said with the 31 seats of the UDP, if all of them refused to support any bill in the parliament then the other members cannot pass such bills.