By Omar Bah
Following a landmark supreme court ruling declaring that Brikama Area Council chairman, Sheriffo Sonko can remain in his job despite being expelled by the party which sponsored him, the UDP has said it accepts the decision of the court.
The UDP had expelled Mr Sonko and filed a mandamus in court for the IEC to conduct a by-election at BAC, relying on the Local Government Act.
Speaking to The Standard, the UDP spokesperson Almamy Taal however blamed the Independent Electoral Commission for failing to act in good time.
“The party accepts the judgment of the Supreme Court and equally congratulates Gambians who are continuing to test our laws because there are several unconstitutional laws standing in The Gambia,” Taal said.
He further stated that the 1997 constitution itself came under attack when the Supreme Court ruled that the former AFPRC junta member, Yankuba Touray does not have immunity from answering the charge of murder.
“So really, we are witnessing the growth of our jurisprudence that reflects the Gambian values. But in the case of Sonko, the IEC should have acted in good time but of course, all these are part lot of challenges facing the IEC and that it has to respond in the interest of our democratic transition. Look at this voter registration debacle; so many instances the IEC just cannot meet the demands of the time. We have to be honest with each other as Gambians that it is time for the IEC to review its mandate and its terms of reference and we hope the new law that is coming into play will guide us towards a better political environment,” he said.
On the judgment again, Taal argued that “the question that we are asking is how do you protect political parties in a multiparty democracy when individual right is seen to supersede the interest of a team that put you up as a political candidate; invested and put their reputation on you?”
Asked what the ruling means for the UDP’s writ of mandamus against the IEC, Taal said: “Now that the Supreme Court has spoken, we don’t have a case anymore.
Probably, we will withdraw the case against the IEC because we were asking the IEC to do its job according to the laws of The Gambia but the Supreme Court has pronounced that the law we relied on is unconstitutional. It is no longer a law of the land.”
Taal said moving forward, the UDP will vet people who put themselves as candidates for the party to ensure they get the right people who understand the values of the party.
“We will get young people; male and female who are qualified and dedicated to the values that the UDP stood for. In the past years we have had wonderful suitable additions to our ranks who will be able to replace all these people who have either resigned or were expelled from the party,” he added.
Sheriffo Sonko reacts
Also reacting to the Supreme Court ruling, Chairman Sheriffo Sonko said he was convinced from the beginning that the UDP has no right to dismiss him. He said the UDP leader never wanted him to be the party’s candidate. “This is why the party is now in a coma because all the genuine people are leaving to join other parties,” he said.
He continued: “When they said they have expelled me because of my support for President Barrow, I made it emphatically clear to them that Barrow was not having a party at the time and that I was only supporting his presidency but they didn’t even want me to do that.”
He said the UDP should have been the very party that should have supported and helped President Adama Barrow to follow the footsteps of South Africa’s ANC “so that the party will stay in power for long”. Sonko said the worst mistake Gambians will make in December is voting UDP into office.
Sheriffo was speaking to Barrow Media Empowerment.