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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

The legality of the TRRC

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Dear Editor,

You will recall that the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC) staged a demonstration in 2020 challenging the constitutionality of Dr Lamine Ceesay’s appointment as Chairman of the TRRC and a petition was delivered to the office of the Attorney General drawing attention to Section 201 of the 1997 Constitution.

The issues raised in the petition were never addressed and a response to the petition was not received. It is interesting to know that the Supreme Court recently set aside the report of the Commission of Enquiry established by the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council (AFPRC) in 1994 to investigate the financial dealings of the former PPP regime. The Supreme Court in its judgement cited the ineligibility of the Chairman of the Commission at the time. This substantiates the claim by APRC that Dr Lamine Ceesay was ineligible to be appointed as Chairman of the TRRC as stipulated in Section 201 of the 1997 Constitution.

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Considering that a precedent has already been set by the Supreme Court in the case of the report of the Commission of Enquiry by the APRC in 1994.

The APRC should therefore continue to challenge the legality of Dr Lamine Ceesay’s appointment as Chairman of the TRRC at the Court of Appeal in order to set aside the TRRC report.

Concerned Citizen

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Whither the spirit of ‘National Dialogue’?

President Adama Barrow is in the habit of making jokes of his opponents, which is of course quite normal in politics. However, as head of state, he certainly needs to be aware that some of the remarks he makes could have some social or even security consequences.

We can recall that during his latest tour of the provinces, he not only made some scathing remarks about his main opponents; the United Democratic Party (UDP), but he also went completely out of what is expected of a head of state to call on his supporters to stand up and fight back against those who provoke them, as they are the government, promising that he would back them up in any such an eventuality.

While I agree with Mamma Kandeh, leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) that President Barrow’s reference to ‘Narr Bitiko’ while alluding to the UDP political bureaus compared to those of his NPP, was taken out of context by some people, because it is a local parlance which has no bearing with ‘Narr’ as an ethnic group, but as head of state, he should always think about possible misinterpretation of whatever he says. Therefore, he should avoid any ambiguity in whatever remarks he makes. In fact, apart from the negative consequences of what he said, that was also not the right forum to make such remarks or even inaugurate NPP bureaus, because the tour was fully sponsored by the state. There is no doubt that it must have cost the Gambians tax payers millions of Dalasis in per diems, fuel and wear and tear of the numerous government vehicles they went with as well as the many man-hours lost by the etra-ordinarily large delegation of public servants that accompanied him on the tour.

Obviously, no amount of spinning by his supporters could justify his call on them to fight back because it tantamount to incitement, which certainly is not expected of a head of state. It was therefore quite unfair for the police to arrest two UDP militants who were alleged to have responded to his remarks, which no doubt carried more national security consequences than whatever those people might have said against him. Indeed, Mamma Kandeh was quite right that being head of state does not mean that President Barrow owns this country. Therefore, he should avoid referring to the public institutions as “my police stations, my hospitals” etc. He does not own them.

It is just about three months ago that President Barrow initiated a National Dialogue, which was welcomed by many people as a positive step towards national reconciliation, especially considering the rising political tensions in the country. Therefore, everyone expected that he would maintain the spirit of reconciliation that he had initiated rather than resorting to inciting his supporters to fight back.

D A Jawo

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