Samba Jallow of the National Reconciliation Party and member for Niamina Dankunku, who is the minority leader of the National Assembly, has sponsored a private bill seeking to amend section 91 (d) of the constitution of The Gambia.
Under the section: A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat in the National Assembly if he or she ceases to be a member of the political party of which he or she was a member at the time of his or her election;
In his amendment quest, Mr Jallow is seeking to replace that with the following: “If he or she by the notice under his or hand to the Speaker, voluntarily joins another political party from the party which he or she was a member at the time of his or her election.”
According to an expert, when passed, the law will change such that it is only when a member voluntarily chooses to quit his or her party by writing to the Speaker can he or she vacate his or her seat.
“It also fundamentally means that no one loses your seat because your party leader or party has expelled you as was the case,” he said.
In his comments, the sponsor of the bill Samba Jallow said: “The objective and reason of the Bill is to grant independence to National Assembly members from their respective parties and political leaders, and to further enhance the freedom of speech and debate as enshrined under section 113 of the Constitution.
It will also seek to ensure that members’ duties and functions are influenced by the supreme national interest and the dictates of conscience and not by their individual political party interest of leaders.”
Hon Jallow further told The Standard that the bill will mature for tabling by December as it has since been gazetted last month.
Under the former regime, a few APRC NAMs fell victim to the law when they were expelled by party leader President Yahya Jammeh. ”It could happen to others if it stays like this so the proposed amendment is a good idea for our new democracy,” said one political commentator.
In 2005 opposition members who joined NADD vacated their seats due to the same law.