New National Assembly in place: who is the next Speaker?

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Chances are that the new National Assembly of the Gambia will today elect the prominent legal, female lawyer and long-standing UDP activist Mrs. Mariam Jack Denton as the 11th Speaker of the assembly.

Mrs. Denton, widow of the former Accountant General as well as daughter of a former speaker of parliament in the first Republic of the Gambia, had been detained for four months (without trial) in connection with the alleged coup attempt on 21st March 2006.

In the circumstances that Mrs. Denton becomes speaker today, she will be sworn-in by the Chief Justice His Lordship Hassan B Jallow. The new speaker will subsequently swear-in her deputy and the other members of the assembly.

Gambians have since independence called for high caliber representatives in a vibrant national assembly where major political issues are debated and legislative and sometimes judicial powers are exercised.

While we have no doubt on the political aptitude of the five nominated and some members of the assembly, some are only talkers especially in the vernacular languages.

Whereas, others are very sociable and can mobilize crowds, they might not be good representatives in the assembly. Would those members be able to understand the issues?

Will they be able to articulate themselves? Are they in a position to forge alliances in parliament and to resist where necessary? How will they communicate with their party leadership in terms of the significance of the issues?

These are things that need to be taken into consideration if Gambians are to have high calibre representatives in the assembly.

Representation is not based on the attributes of family, friend or neighbour. Representation should be based on the capacity of the candidate to ably represent the views of the people in the National Assembly where the national cake is going to be divided.