By Omar Bah
The National Assembly Member for Fulladou West, Dawda Sanna Jawara has said that “any attempt by President Adama Barrow to sack nominated lawmaker Ya Kumba Jaiteh will be met with an equal force.”
“This is an unlawful action and I think the presidency has to be very careful because they can be met with equally the same force. We can react by invoking section 67 of the constitution [impeachment]. We have to defend our House whatever it takes. If they want to go ahead to enforce this [removal of Jaiteh], it will be met with an equal force,” Jawara told journalists.
Jaiteh, one of the five people nominated into the National Assembly by President Barrow has had her nomination revoked by Barrow on Monday in a letter purportedly signed by the Secretary General and Head of Civil Service.
“This is a national issue that we have all confronted. There is nowhere in the 1997 constitution where it indicates that because you can nominate national assembly members as a president you can also fire them. The president has the powers to nominate but that’s where his powers stop,” he argued.
He said section 91 and 92 describe clearly how parliamentarians can be dismissed but there is nowhere the president’s name is mentioned. “The law is not here to be played with and we have to make sure that this is not interpreted as a party matter. We are together in this because interference into our House is interference in our democracy,” he said.
Meanwhile, even within the United Democratic Party, members are divided over whether the president’s decision was legitimate or not.
While people like Sanna Jawara, Alagie Darboe and Sulayman Saho vehemently stood against the decision, other UDP members appeared to be undecided.
But for Jawara, the difference within the UDP or other parties over the issue does not change anything.
“Just because you are UDP does not mean that UDP will interfere with how people go about representing their people. Every parliamentarian who is either elected or nominated has a conscience. And in this case, it is one’s conscience that will dictate how to go about issues,” he added.
Reading a declaration reportedly signed by 31 members who attended the caucus meeting, at the National Assembly yesterday, Majority Leader, Kebba K. Barrow said: “We the undersigned members of the National Assembly hereby resolve that the members of the National Assembly are hereby dissociating themselves from the letter purporting to dismiss Nominated member Kumba Jaiteh.
“That the President has no power or authority to dismiss any member of the national assembly and that it is unconstitutional nor in the spirit of the constitution to revoke the nomination of any member of the National Assembly…We are not recognizing or accepting the purported revocation of the nomination of Jaiteh and consider it null and void. This is the Gambia that we have fought for in 2016 and nobody can come and change that…We will not allow any self perpetuation in this country anymore. The constitution is the supreme law of this country and it is very clear on the nomination and dismissal of national assembly members.”
Reacting to her dismissal Jaiteh, a lawyer, also wrote an open letter to the Secretary General requesting the office to be appropriately advised on her issue.
In the letter, Jaiteh said the power of the president to revoke her nomination expired immediately before her swearing in “as a substantive member of Parliament”.
“The President does not have the right or authority to withdraw the nomination of nominated members of Parliament after they have been duly sworn in,” she said.
“In conclusion, I consider the said letter as an attempt to subvert or interfere with the membership of the legislative arm of Government. Your letter is therefore disappointing. The Gambian people expect better.”
Meanwhile, a letter purportedly written by the office of the Minority leader and National Assembly member for Niamina Dankunku, Samba Jallow seemed to say a different story. It reads: “A caucus meeting is an informal forum of the Assembly and therefore cannot be construed as a decision of the plenary and that the signing of the attendance sheet cannot suffice as a support or an agreement to the said resolution made in the caucus. The resolution should reflect the views expressed and votes taken at the caucus, that a separate sheet be provided for those who wish to support or sign the resolution; and based on the forgoing, I hereby call that the records be amended to expunge the attendance sheet as the accompanying signature for the resolution.”