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Information minister says the two cases are not related

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By Lamin Cham & Alagie Manneh

President Adama Barrow yesterday took to Facebook to congratulate his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall on his decision not to run for a third time. Sall made the decision on Monday arguing that even though he can ‘legally’ contest, he has decided to quit to strengthen democracy. His decision has been greeted with loud applauses across the world including one from UN Secretary General António Guterres.

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Yesterday, President Barrow wrote: “I commend President Macky Sall for his decision not to run for office for a third term. It is a courageous move and will strengthen democracy in Senegal, the sub-region and Africa at large.”

Almost immediately, the president’s Facebook Page received a barrage of responses from Gambians, most of them calling on him to follow Macky Sall’s example.

Though Barrow has talked about life after the presidency at a meeting with religious leaders last Koriteh, a move seen by many as a signal for his departure, his lieutenants in the NPP said he will run in 2026 in search of a third mandate.

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Reacting to the president’s comments, one Kemo Cham said: “Mr President, yours and Macky Sall’s situation are the same. He amended the Senegalese constitution and his supporters, like yours, argued that his first term before the amendment didn’t count.

You, sadly, decided to ditch the proposed amended constitution because you are not sure of how to handle that issue. But guess what, the effect is worse in Gambia, because with the current constitution, you can stay for as long as you wish, even if you know that it’s detrimental to our democracy. Learn from Macky Sall, Mr President”.

Another one, Alpha Jallow wrote: “This should be a turning point for you to emulate. When you leave at the right time it will be better than to over stay.”

In another reaction, one Abdoulie Jabang said: “Thank you for recognising Sall’s move not to run for a third term. We would encourage you to do the same for the interest of Gambia, the sub- region and Africa as a whole. Remember we spent 116 million dalasis to have a new constitution designed to end self- perpetuating rule. Do it for the wider interest of the country to not seek a third term. Ten years is enough for anybody to serve as president”.

Pa Samba Jow, a prominent Gambian political activist commented: “Macky Sall’s decision was inevitable, because a third term was untenable, given the determination of the Senegalese people against self-perpetuating rule. This was the best decision for him and the stability of his country and by extension Africa’s democratisation process. I hope his counterpart, President Adama Barrow will take heed and decide against going for a third term. President Barrow has a unique opportunity to go down in history as the pioneer of term limits in The Gambia. A lot of people around the President out of sheer selfishness, will urge him to continue to self-perpetuate, but I hope the president in the interest of the future of our country, and the democracy we are trying to build, and for posterity will do the right thing. History will judge President Barrow positively if he gives us a constitution that guarantees term limits, in addition to not going for a third term.”

However, Barrow’s minister of information Lamin Queen Jammeh who is also the spokesperson of the governing NPP, said The Gambia and Senegal are two different sovereign states, particularly in terms of the laws that govern them.

“For example, whereas in Senegal there is a term limit, here in The Gambia, we do not have that yet. So, to therefore think that Macky has decided this way and this could influence Barrow, well it may be true, but I cannot see any direct bearing on it. This kind of decision could be influenced by local conditions in The Gambia,and not necessarily external factors such as Macky Sall’s decision. I don’t think so,” Minister Jammeh said when asked by The Standard whether Macky’s move could affect Barrow’s thinking.

He said such a development also can depend on what exist in political parties too. “When political entities are selecting candidates, they go for the most voter popular person among them and considering the composition of NPP today, President Barrow is the most popular and therefore much more of a potential winner in the party and by extension, I think even in the whole country,” he said.

He added that even if Barrow himself desires to go, it may “not be easy” for him to step down especially if  the majority in NPP feels that he is the most suitable person to lead.

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