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Sunday, October 25, 2020

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By Musa Bah

Recently, there has been a lot of mêlée in the media – particularly social media – on the constitutionality or otherwise of the revocation of the nomination of Honorable Ya Kumba Jaiteh, a Nominated Member of the National Assembly, by the President of the Republic of The Gambia Mr Adama Barrow.

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A caucus of thirty-one members from across party lines proclaimed their rejection of the revocation and even went to an extent of threatening to initiate impeachment proceedings if the president does not quash that decision. Then the minority leader came out to say that he and those on his side of the aisle do not agree with what those thirty-one members said, calling it a mere attendance list. He said that his position was that they should have sought legal advice from the Attorney General before taking a stance.

Many legal practitioners came out on the media to say that the revocation was unconstitutional and that the president does not have the power to sack a sitting National Assembly Member, nominated or otherwise. Some argued that it is about respecting the separation of powers in a democracy. They averred that when the president begins to sack sitting MPs, that will be a dent on our democratization process.

Yet, there are many other legal practitioners who maintain that as the president is the nominating authority – and this is according to the constitution – he should also have the right to fire. Whoever can hire, can also fire. That is the argument. They also insist that President Barrow can revoke the nomination of any member should he feel that such a person is no longer fit for purpose given some actions or inactions of the individual.
Last night, it was announced in the national media that His Excellency President Adama Barrow has nominated one Mr Foday Gassama to replace Miss Ya Kumba Jaiteh. Nothing has been heard as yet from the National Assembly on what they would do seeing that they gave a sort of an ultimatum for the president to rescind the decision of revoking Ya Kumba’s nomination.

As I said in an earlier write-up, this saga offers us – as a nation – a unique opportunity to test our democracy and see its limits. There are three arms of government in a democracy: the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature. These three are supposed to hold each other to account. It is very important that each is independent of the other and none oversteps its powers for there to be a balance.

If there is any dispute – especially if it has to do with constitutionality – it is the courts that should adjudicate. Thus, if there is an argument as to whether the Executive overstepped its bounds and the National Assembly feels that this is the case, then they should approach the courts, the Supreme Court to be precise, for them to interpret the law.
This is why I said the revocation of Ya Kumba Jaiteh’s nomination is a unique opportunity for our democracy to be tested. The National Assembly or some of its members will do the nation a great service if they (or some member(s)) decide to take this further to the Supreme Court for arbitration.
Let us use all the tools in the box!

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