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City of Banjul
Saturday, January 16, 2021

Cause for fresh election of Minority Leader of the National Assembly

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Dear editor,

On Tuesday 11th April 2017, National Assembly Members (NAMs) newly sworn-in were faced with the task of selecting a Minority Leader from a gallery of three candidates.  For NAMs, parliamentary staff and indeed political observers, the decision problem visibly lay in new and uncharted territory.  Amid some cross-talk, the consensus to conduct a vote finally held sway, and elections supervised by the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) saw Hon. Samba Jallow (Member for Niamina Dankunku) overwhelming elected as Minority Leader.  I posit however that voting by NAMs from the party with the highest number of seats in the Assembly subverted the spirit of electing a Minority Leader, and certainly renders the recorded vote void.  Although a curtailed round of voting may not overturn the  election of Hon. Jallow as Minority Leader, I strongly hope that NAMs are able to see (in retrospect) for themselves  the incoherent logic of having a subset of NAMs electing both Majority and Minority Leaders, and take urgent steps to rectify the procedural error made earlier, and parliamentary record.

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Abdou Samad Njaaye

My take on partisan politics

Dear editor,

I do not believe that partisan politics is bad for our country and shouldn’t be misconstrued as threat to democracy and/or to our national interest.
We have had painful experiences in the Gambia when Yahya Jammeh attempted to “kill” multiparty democratic participation by effectively placing stranglehold on opposition parties, supporters and leadership.
In buoyant democracies, political parties are formed on different ideological principles including social and economic development philosophies and a particular party’s policy positions or dogma are used to guide and govern a country when elected. Gambia is no different.
Any political party that espouses policies incongruent with the fundamental ideals, interests or aspirations of sovereign citizenry will self-destruct and die of natural death.
Thus, in the absence of dictatorship where absolute power is vested in an individual to wield at will, political parties are aware that their survival in competitive arena is contingent upon performance and meeting or exceeding expectations of the citizens and will pursue policies and programs that are partisan, popular and beneficial to the citizens and country.
Let us encourage pluralism and/or party politics. It presents rich menu /options to citizens, consolidate power in their hands and is healthy for democratic growth and maturation.

Zakaria Kemo Conteh
Queens, USA

Speaker Mariam Denton, pull down the President’s
picture from the National Assembly building!

Dear editor,

I hereby to call on the Speaker Mariam Denton and her deputy Momodou K Sanneh together with the Majority Leader Kebba K Barrow and the Minority Leader Samba Jallow and indeed all National Assembly members to pull down the picture of Pres. Adama Barrow from the main chamber of the National Assembly, now. The presence of the picture of the sitting president in the National Assembly is a direct affront to the separation of powers principle and the threat to our democracy. It is a practice that is monarchical and dictatorial. The National Assembly does not belong to the president, rather it is the house of the Gambian Nation. No president’s picture deserves to be there. There is absolutely no justification for the president’s picture to continue to hang in that house. Remove it now.
In the past the APRC Tyranny persistently and illegally displayed Yaya Jammeh’s picture in the National Assembly as if he owns the house. This is a backward, feudalistic, monarchical and tyrannical attitude. We are not a 13th century chiefdom. We are a modern democratic state in which the three arms of the state, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary are separate. They serve each other through a clear checks and balances system to ensure the good governance and sustainable development of the Gambia. Hence no arm is to be glorified by another arm.
Displaying the picture of the president therefore inside the premises of the Legislature or in the Judiciary is nothing other than a sycophantic over-glorification of one person above and beyond our sovereignty. It is an attempt to place a human being above the Gambian nation as a lord. It undermines the independence, professionalism and effective performance of that parliament. This is not what the Gambia has decided for. The president is nothing other than a paid servant to do a job. He must not be worshipped! The job of the parliament is to hold the president to account.
I hereby demand that Speaker Mariam Denton and the National Assembly authorities remove all pictures of the president from the National Assembly. We expect Mariam Denton and the National Assembly to consolidate the democratic foundations of the Gambia and not to perpetuate dictatorial tendencies especially from so early a time.
Secondly, the National Assembly must summon Pres. Barrow to report on his visit to the Republic of Congo where he is reported to claim that the Despot Denis Sassou Ngeusso is ‘an excellent advisor’. The Gambia people need to know the rationale for this visit and what results were obtained. It is indeed a great cause for concern to have our newly democratically elected president visit and applaud a certified corrupt and brutal tyrant who continues to perpetuate himself in power for decades now.
But since the Constitution under Section 77 subsection 3 requires that it is the Vice President who answers questions on behalf of the president in the National Assembly, one wonders how this will be possible now. For that matter I call on Speaker Mariam Denton and the National Assembly to demand that Pres. Barrow appoint a vice president immediately for the effective and efficient running of the state to ensure transparency and accountability.

Madi Jobarteh

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