Ecowas parliamentarian says Barrow is a strong advocate of term limit

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By Tabora Bojang

Niamina Dankunku lawmaker, Samba Jallow, who is also a member of the Ecowas parliament, has claimed that President Adama Barrow is one of the strongest voices in Ecowas who want the introduction of presidential term limits in national constitutions across the sub-region.

The introduction of a presidential term limit was one of the key campaign promises of President Adama Barrow as he vowed to amend Jammeh-era laws to enhance good governance in The Gambia.

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But when the rejected draft constitution was being debated, Barrow’s sympathizers in the National Assembly said they would not vote for a document that would bar him from contesting for more than two terms, contrary to the provision which said he can only contest in 2021.  This position was also shared by the cabinet, who said in their position paper to the CRC, that the proposed commencement of term limit discriminates against the president.

Speaking to The Standard on the sidelines of the NRP congress in Jimara, NAM Jallow who is the longest-serving member in parliament, said the issue of a two-term limit to presidency is not provided in the Gambian Constitution and it is up to the president’s prerogative to step down or continue after his second term in 2026.

“I swore to defend a constitution that does not have a term limit. So when it comes to contesting elections it is the choice of the president,” Jallow stated.

However, Jallow’s fellow NRP NAM and member for Upper Saloum Alagie Mbow, told an online medium last month that President Adama Barrow should move on after the expiry of his current term and allow Gambians to elect another person.

But according to Jallow, only Barrow can decide that.  “If Barrow served a second term, it is up to him to say I am okay or I will continue. But at the end of the day, it is Gambian people who decide. I am a member of the Ecowas Parliament. Just recently, I came from Abuja and anytime we have our extraordinary session, the issue of this [term limit] will come and the information we got is that yes Gambia did not have a term limit but the president [Barrow] is one of the strong advocates when it comes to term limit. So for me, then what is remaining now is for us to put the law in. The president has the commitment at the Ecowas level and one of the reasons he advocates for term limit is that he believes it is part of security stabilisation in West Africa. If you look at it, what happened in Mali, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast and the chaos in Senegal today is about this term limit and the president [Barrow] knows it and I don’t think he will go further to make sure at the end of the day it will bring chaos in The Gambia,” NAM Jallow stated.

He recommended that in the absence of the draft constitution, the 1997 Constitution can be amended to include a term limit for presidency. “Government can always come and amend those clauses. It was there before and anytime the executive has the feeling to have a term limit, it can easily be incorporated in the 1997 Constitution.”