By Lamin Cham
The clerk of the National Assembly, Momodou Sise, has responded to allegations by three members who accused the Speaker and the Assembly Authority of illegally removing them from the Ecowas Parliament.
Fatoumata ‘Touma’ Njai of Banjul South, Samba Jallow of Niamina East and Kebba Barrow of Kombo South consequently demanded the resignation of the clerk and his communication director for misleading the public in a media interview.
In its response, the Clerk of the National Assembly wrote to the complainants: “Ordinarily, I would have recommended that you direct your missive to the chairperson and members of the Committee of Selection. However, since you have chosen to address my office and raised fundamental procedural issues, it is within my remit to provide clarification on the procedural matters raised therein. To begin with, let me first and foremost clarify that it is inaccurate to claim that you and your colleagues have been unlawfully removed from the Ecowas Parliament. My office is in receipt of a letter from the President of the Ecowas Commission dated 1 December 2023 addressed to all presidents of Ecowas member states including Adama Barrow as well as a letter dated 24 November from the Speaker of the Ecowas Parliament addressed to Speaker Fabakary Tombong Jatta and all speakers of Ecowas member states informing them that the current term of the Fifth Legislature of the Ecowas Parliament will end on 8 March 2024. The letter further requests that all national parliaments including The Gambia should forward the names of their delegation to the Sixth Legislature.
“Accordingly, the Speaker in a letter dated 8 January 2024 communicated to the Speaker of the Ecowas Parliament conveying The Gambia’s delegation to the Sixth Legislature of the Ecowas Parliament constituting the following as approved by the National Assembly at its sitting of Monday 25 April 2022: Billay Tunkara, Alhagie Darboe, Maimuna Ceesay, Amadou Camara, and Sheriff Sarr. Speaker Jatta received a letter from the Speaker of the Ecowas Parliament drawing his attention to Article 18 of the Ecowas Supplementary Protocol which states the term of the current legislature ends on 8 March 2024 and that it is prudent to allow the following members to continue at the Ecowas Parliament until 8 March 2024: Kebba Barrow, Samba Jallow and Fatoumata Njai. This, the Speaker considered consistent with the decision of the plenary as approved on 25 April 2022 and insisted that the approved delegation should proceed.
“A protracted negotiation ensued between the National Assembly of The Gambia and the Ecowas Parliament. The Chairperson of Foreign Affairs Committee of the Ecowas Parliament, Senator Edwin Snow, visited The Gambia and held talks with Speaker Jatta and appealed to The Gambia to allow the said members complete the term at the expense of the approved delegation by the plenary.
“Your allegation of unlawful removal is therefore inconsistent with facts and deliberately misleading to the public and unfair to the Office of the Clerk. What remains irrefutable is that the mandate of the Fifth Legislature of the Ecowas Parliament ends on 8 March 2024 and so does your representation of the National Assembly at the Ecowas Parliament. This is what is consistent with facts pursuant to Article 5 and 18 (2)(a) of the Supplementary Act Relating to the Enhancement of the Powers of the Ecowas Parliament.
“At the expiry of the term of Ecowas Parliament, all national parliaments are required to send in a delegation whether it includes members of the previous delegation depends on parliament’s approval. Your claim that such a decision should be tabled before plenary for approval is simply a calculated attempt to create confusion…”