HALIFA SALLAH’S’ OPEN LETTER TO HON. ABDOULIE SAINE OF BANJUL CENTRAL

Posterity compels me to address this letter to you questioning why a man Hon. Abdoulie SaineHalifa 5of your calibre would put a debate on Kingship on the historical agenda at this juncture of human civilisation and further drag me into it.

I hope in initiating this debate you have alerted your mind to Section 112 of the Constitution which states:

“all members shall regard themselves as servants of the people of The Gambia desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people, and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole and in doing so, shall be influenced by the dictates of conscience and the national interest”

I hope the dictates of conscience, sense of duty to people and the national interest will guide the spirit of this debate. First and foremost, I must remind you that you were elected and further took oath to uphold and defend a Constitution which states under Section 1 and 2 that :

“The Gambia is a Sovereign Republic “

“The Sovereignty of The Gambia resides in the people of The Gambia from whom all organs of government derive their authority and in whose name and for whose welfare and prosperity the powers of government are to be exercised in accordance with this Constitution “

You have sworn to uphold and defend a Republic under which authority to govern is connected with dependent on and determined by the sovereign will of the people

Now you are arguing for Gambia to become a constitutional monarchy. What is a constitutional Monarchy?

 

What is constitutional Monarchy?

Gambians who know their history know what constitutional monarchy means and would not be calling for a return to it which would amount to a retrogressive step towards a defunct era. One has to read the 1965 Constitution to know the nature and characteristics of consttutional monarchy.

The Gambia was a constitutional monarchy in 1965. This is why Section 62 of the 1965 Constitution stated: “The Executive authority of the Gambia is vested in her Majesty”

In order to exercise executive power, Section 29 provided for the office of governor general “…who shall be appointed by her Majesty and shall hold office during Her Majesty’s pleasure and who shall be her majesty’s representative in the Gambia”

Section 60 empowered the Governor General to .”… at anytime prorogue or dissolve parliament .”

Section 66 stated that “ the function of Cabinet shall be to advise the Governor General in the Government of the Gambia “

Now who did the governor owed allegiance and obedience to? Was it the Gambian people? Not at all.

His oath of office reads:

“ I do swear ( or solemnly affirm) that i will well and truly serve her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, in the office of the Governor General of The Gambia.”

Hence under a monarchy sovereignty resides in the monarchwho cannot be removed from office.A Monarch is not a representative of a people. A monarch is not elected. The throne is inherited by their children and grand children on the basis of blood line until they are overthrown as had happened in France in 1789 or defeated and given ceremonial roles as is the case in many countries in Europe. In fact threat of an Arab spring made the monarchs in Morocco and Jordan to make concessions to move towards constitutional monarchy through devolution of more power to representstive institutions.The progressive route established by the history of human kind is to move from absolute monarchies to constitutional monarchies which comes with devolution of power to represenative institutions and then to Republics which hands over all power to the people.

The Gambian people went to a referendum in 1970 and voted in favour of a Republic instead of retaining constitutional monarchy. The Gambian people fully asserted, without ambiguity or equivocation that in a land of equals no one is fit to lead without the consent of the others. This is why elections are periodically held to elect a president, members of the National Assembly and Members of Councils.

Such representatives are considered servants of the people and not their lords. Hence a Gambian who is fully conscious that sovereignty resides in him or her would not consider himself or herself a lesser being than those who occupy positions of representation, on the contrary, one would see them as equals who by virtue of choice are in fact servants of all.

Hence if the member for Banjul Central would want Gambia to return to the past he has his right to propagate his vision. He should however realise that he would be living almost five decades behind time and would be out of step with both modern civilisation and the constitution he has sworn to defend.

My advice to him in particular and all Gambians in general is to shelve this fruitless debate. I have told people in the countryside that when a person stands in the middle of the crowd to argue in broad day light that the moon was shining in the sky and not the sun all should pass and leave him or her alone.In short, every Gambian has witnessed that the president goes to vote during Peresidential, National Aseembly and council elections. He takes only one ballot token and cast it for the candidate of his choice in secret.Has he ever demanded for more than one ballot token or all to be given to him to cast because he is president? This confirms that the president is equal to all in terms of citizenship and has only one vote which cannot make any one president. No Gambian could ever see another Gambian political figure as a superior being by birth. Gambia has become a Republic as a result of political evolution of her people. This is the verdict of history and it is irrevocable.

 

Halifa Sallah