By Omar Bah
Members of the National Assembly yesterday passed and amended Section 62 of the 1997 Constitution to revise the compulsory retirement age of a judge of a superior Court and removed the controversial upper age-limit for holding presidential office and connected matters.
The 1997 Constitution placed an age limit on qualification for presidency in the country at 65, as well as the appointment of vice president, which has similar qualifications as president.
Critics of former president Jammeh said he had relied on this section to disqualify most of his opponents who might be interested in contesting election against him.
Moving the motion before the members of National Assembly the Minister of Justice Aboubacarr Tambadou said the bill also seeks to extend the age at which a judge of superior court should vacate office.
He added that the amendment of the bill will facilitate and encourage qualified, competent and experienced Gambians to be appointed as judges of the superior Courts and candidates to be elected to the political office of the president.
The Minority Leader and NAM for Niamina Dankunku Hon Samba Jallow, in seconding the motion, said the age limit should not have been in the constitution in the first place.
The changes would come as a relief to the Barrow administration whose chosen Vice President Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang is believed to be over 65 and could technically be called vice president to avoid the legal complications forcing the government to coin the phrase Vice President Overseer when referring to her role at state house.
The current foreign minister and leader of the United Democratic Party would have been faced with a legal bottleneck were he to aspire to contest the election of last December.
As fate would have it though he was sent to prison in April, it prompted his party to select a younger Adama Barrow as presidential candidate who later won the election under a coalition ticket.
Many National Assembly members welcome the amendment, saying the section was discriminatory and has no place in the country’s statute book.