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Ex-NAM tells parties to adopt term limits for their leaders

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By Omar Bah

Former National Assembly Member for Niamina East, Omar Ceesay, has urged political parties to consider adopting the provision of term limits in their respective constitutions “to maintain healthy and vibrant internal party democracy”.

None of the country’s political parties, with the exception of the Abdoulie Jammeh-led National Unity Partly, has such a law in their constitution.

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“Term limits are a very necessary corrective to the current political inequalities that perpetually benefit incumbents and inevitably hinder their challengers. I suggest that in the forthcoming political party congresses, all parties endeavour to have a provision for term limits in their constitutions. This, I believe, will set a very good example,” he said.

He said the provision will restrict individuals from contesting presidential elections more than twice.

“This will prevent the concentration of power and the emergence of dynastic rule in political parties. Additionally, the inclusion of a term limit would enable both ruling and opposition political parties, including the GDC, UDP, NPP, and others, to strengthen democratic principles and enhance the continued vitality and effectiveness of party democracy in The Gambia,” he said.

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He added that the adoption of such a provision in “our political system will further enable the infusion of new ideas, perspectives, and fresh leadership to prevent stagnation.”

“Advocates of term limits also point to the concept of rotation in a democracy, in which power is shifted to new individuals every set number of years, with the idea being that those multiple points of view being expressed through the machinations of political power is a necessary function of democracy—ensuring more people have a chance to rule and influence policy and rebutting the potential for single individuals to entrench their power and influence as long as possible,” he said.

He argued that without term limits and without democratic rotation, “democracy will become hollowed out at the whim of the individual office holders who cling to power year after year with no meaningful way to switch leadership.”

“It will also ensure that leadership positions are rotated regularly and term limits help to prevent corruption and abuse of power, thus promoting transparency, accountability, and trust within and among party members and the electorate. Finally, the youths and women should not hesitate to advocate for term limits in their respective political parties in the upcoming congress,” he said.

Mr Ceesay of the GDC was widely admired for his dynamism and youthful vibrancy as a member of the Fifth Legislature. He was defeated in the 2022 parliamentary elections by the ruling NPP’s Dawda Jeng by 1209 votes.

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