By Omar Bah
The Independent Electoral Commission will tomorrow decide on the crisis in the Brikama Area Council chairmanship.
The BAC chairman Sheriffo Sonko was recently expelled by the United Democratic Party which act renders his elective seat vacant, according to the Local Government Act. His deputy, Ismaila Jallow formally notified the IEC about the development but chairman Sonko has since countered with his own letter to the Election House urging them to ignore Jallow’s letter which he said was forged and written without the consent of the council. The Standard yesterday contacted the chairman of the IEC Alieu Momarr Njai on the matter and he said:“We are going to meet on Wednesday to discuss Sonko’s dismissal from his party and his own letter reacting to the BAC vice chairman’s letter sent to us. I hope we will settle the matter once and for all.”
Mr Njai further stated that the electoral commission has some very critical issues to address because “Sheriffo Sonko is saying that his deputy used another letterhead and has no authority to do that. The current chairman is also supported by sixteen councilors out of 28 councilors. This is why I deem it necessary to call a commission meeting to address the issue.
“But the law is very clear – if a chairman or a councilor is dismissed by his/her party the person automatically loses his/her seat. But the IEC should be notified by the authority the person is serving at the time of the dismissal,” Njai said.
He added: “They are asking me why Sheriffo Sonko, who is elected by 28 wards, should lose his job after being dismissed by his party – when lawmakers who are elected by one constituency will not lose their job when they are fired by their parties. This I cannot comprehend. But there is nothing I can do to correct that – the law is the law.”
Many APRC members of the National Assembly lost their seats under the former regime through the application or misapplication of this provision.
But in December 2017 lawmakers passed a bill repealing section 91(1)(d) of the Constitution to protect themselves from losing their jobs when they are fired by their political parties.
Meanwhile the embattled chairman Sonko has continued to defy his party’s decision with another letter warning the UDP against interfering with his work.
Sonko argued that even the IEC has “no right to interfere in this matter or to act in accordance with your several letters.”
He said the decision of the party to sack him was pre-determined and the persons purported to make the decision themselves had “no right to do so. I do not accept that you are the competent authority to declare my seat vacant and you cannot act on behalf of the electorate. This letter is to notify you to immediately cease and desist from interfering in my work. Your actions are unwanted and unwelcome, I am the elected Chairman of WCR. I have a job to do and I shall continue to deliver for the aspiration and wellbeing of the people of the region irrespective of political affiliation.”.
“I am by this letter making it clear that I do not accept that you have the power or right to interfere with my constitutional right of association, that your purported expulsion in any way affects my right to carry out the duties to which I have been elected by the electorate,” Sonko defiantly told the UDP.