Minority Leader calls for dialogue

By MUHAMMED S. BAH

Hon. Samba Jallow, Minority Leader, said is it better to resolve the current political situation that the country finds itself in as one family rather than wait for outside or foreign military intervention.

He made this appeal in his contribution at the National Assembly during the tabling of report of the 44th Session of the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Assembly and the 32nd Session ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly on Wednesday 28 December 2016.

Hon. Jallow added that in resolving the current situation, both the incoming and outgoing governments should come together to address the issues and concerns for a peaceful handing over of executive power.

The Minority Leader cited Ghana as an example where there was a presidential election in which the incumbent was defeated and he graciously  accepted defeat and felicitated the incoming president and that the transition is going up to January 2017.

Hon. Jallow said he is also praying that Gambia emulates Ghana in ensuring a peaceful transition and handing over.

“Hon Speaker, my contribution is on page 29 that talks about constitutional limit on presidential term. I looked at it as a tool that prevents crisis in Africa. The term limit is not only the problem but also constitutional amendments which are sometimes made without consulting the people themselves,” he added.

He cited Gambia as an example where such amendments were made without consulting the people.

The Minority Leader emphasised that term limit is important as it minimises political crisis. “If you look at countries that have term limits, such crisis do not happen in those countries,” he added.

The Minority Leader said there was an absolute majority requirement in the 1997 constitution but that this was removed by the outgoing government. He added that this type of political situation, like is currently being experienced, could have been avoided had it been that this provision was not amended as it removes the second round of voting to pave way for the one with simple majority to be declared winner.

“If you look at the December 1st Election, none of the candidates got the absolute majority. All of them got below 50%. Today, we couldn’t have been where we are today, because none of the contestants got absolute majority,” said Hon. Jallow.

Earlier, when presenting the Report, Hon Alhagie Sillah, Member for Banjul North, informed the Assembly that the issue of the 1 December Election was discussed during the ACP-EU Meeting at the later part.

He further elaborated on what transpired since after the declaration of the results by the IEC, the acceptance of the incumbent and his congratulation to the incoming president, his denouncement of the results on the 9th  December and also the filing of a petition by the APRC party to the supreme court.

“The delegation concluded by informing the Assembly that the situation in the Gambia is under control and that the people are moving on their regular businesses awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court,” said Hon. Sillah.

The Majority Leader, for his part, said the report should capture the reason why the President reversed his decision after accepting the results earlier as the IEC gave him two different results.

Hon. Jatta further said that many countries especially in Europe do not have term limits, adding that a person rules in as long as the people are voting him. He asked why this is only imposed on Africans to have term limits.

The Majority Leader argued that if anyone is imposing on countries to have term limits when the people in those countries still want a person to rule them, then that person should be considered as the worst dictator.

Speaking on the amendments in the constitution without consultation which was earlier alluded to by the Minority leader, the Majority Leader responded that the National Assembly members are representatives of the people and they are there to make decisions on the behalf of them.

Hon. Jatta also added that there are certain entrenched clauses in the Constitution which the National Assembly could not amend without consulting the people, adding that those clauses were not amended.