By Tabora Bojang
Siaka Jatta, an adviser to President Adama Barrow has opined that the new draft constitution should not be retrogressive, adding that the term served by President Barrow under a coalition government should not count.
Speaking to The Standard yesterday, Jatta expressed dismay over provisions of the new draft constitution which according to him, “weaken the powers vested in the executive arm of the government and unfairly targets the president.”
He said Barrow’s landmark election in 2016 under a coalition ticket should not count towards the two-term limit provided by the new draft constitution.
If passed before next year, the new constitution would not allow President Adama Barrow to run for elections after 2021, having served two consecutive terms of 5 years in office.
However, Jatta is adamant that “President Barrow should be able to contest the 2021and 2026 elections because that will complete his two terms in office because this is a coalition government but anything sort of that would be discriminatory and unfair.”
“The provisions on the term limit of the president cannot be retroactive to include years that he served before the coming of the new constitution. We have seen in Senegal when they changed the presidential term limit from seven to five years, the previous term president Macky Sall had served in office was never counted since the provisions only came to effect after the enactment of the new constitution. So, The Gambia is not an island in this world and you cannot retroact the law. I believe that section in the draft is only meant to target President Barrow and I will stand by this even if it was someone else in power,” he added.
Asked to comment on allegations that the executive has been dragging foot on the draft since it remains critical of several provisions it carries, Jatta said the emergency situation of the country brought by coronavirus pandemic comes with a lot of restrictions and the cabinet remains busy over Covid-19 matters.
Warning against haste, Jatta said there are a lot of issues in the draft that Gambians need to look into before a referendum since there is a constitution in place that is currently governing the country.
“There are lot of provisions in this draft that people should critique and reflect on because you cannot shift all the powers vested in the executive and give it the legislature without due diligence, each of them should retain its powers and that is we have to be wary and deeply reflect on these issues because a lot of money has been invested in the new constitution and it should be able to serve us for the next century”, Jatta said.