“Electoral Reform to begin before National Assembly Election,” Sallah

By Kebba Jeffang-

Mr. Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson of the coalition told the media at a press conference that President Adama Barrow desires to begin the process of electoral reform before the national assembly election involving all the election stakeholders including the political parties.

He said this at a press conference he convened on Thursday, February 09, on behalf of Mr. Barrow held at Kairaba Beach Hotel, Senegambia, where other issues regarding the appointment of other ministers and the Kitty accident were also discussed.

He said, “The president desires to begin electoral reform before the national assembly election as he has instructed for consultation to begin with political parties, the inter-party committee and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.”

He said the objective behind this is to review the Elections (Amendment) Act of 20th July 2015 which under section 43 increased the deposit for Presidential aspirants from D10, 000 to D500,000, National Assembly aspirants from D5,000 to D50, 000, Mayors from D2,500 to D50,000, and for Councillors from D1,200 to D10,000.

“Such draconian provisions will ultimately be subjected to review by all stakeholders and a bill will be prepared to be submitted to the national assembly for enactment. So in short, the government is now working very hard to put the institutions to work so that the vacuum that has been created by the impasse will be overcome and all those who contributed to national development will be able to play their part,” he said.

Meanwhile, discussing the state of appointment of the remaining 7 ministers, Mr. Sallah said the first phase of the appointment dealt with the fundamental basis of forming a coalition which arose as a collaboration of the political parties and one Independent political aspirant has required the president to consider the nomination from those parties and stakeholders.

He said the ministry of petroleum and energy are separated under the estimate budget but it is the desire of the president to put them together. He said as of now the president has come to almost conclusion regarding the persons to be appointed for the ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and Ministry of Transport, Works, Infrastructure.

Mr. Sallah who is said to be the Coordinator of Think-Tank Committee of the government emphasized that the President is still working on the other ministries. “The reason being very simple; section 72 of the Constitution instructs that he entrusts the responsibility of ministries to persons with requisite professional qualifications and experience. So many advises are coming from different quarters and people are sending their curriculum vitae.

“The President still would want to take time to do the vetting properly so that when the names come out people will believe that he has done what he is supposed to do. It is also important for people to understand that under section 76 of the Constitution, executive power is vested on the President,” said Sallah.

He said ministers are the advisers of the president and they are collectively responsible for the advice they give to the President as well as responsible for that advice as far as the national assembly is concerned.

He noted that the President also has the desire to appoint people as special advisers to him and the president is also working on that mandate so that he can be able to capture the whole team of experience and professionalism that is required to run a government in an efficient and effective manner.

Meanwhile, giving updates on the recent accident that happened in Kitty, the spokesperson said “the president has also expressed concern on the accident that occurred in Kitty. It has a potential to cause a social strife and that is why he mandated me to go the hospital to do fact finding. Eventually we have received reports from EFSTH on the 7th February and a police report on the 8th.”

He said 30 people are involved and initially the government is to provide D5000 to each of the victims so that it will meet their hospital expenses and others expenses. “Investigations are ongoing and the person involved (the driver) is from Nuimi, in the North Bank Region and the family took D11, 000 to the hospital as contribution to the treatment of the victims. So in essence, the National Reconciliation Committee of the Coalition has been sent to Kitty village to talk to the families so that people will understand the cause of the accident and any misunderstanding that may bring about civil strife,” Sallah remarked.

During questions and answers session, he promised to hold a personal press conference he is due to arrange after the final batch of ministers is sworn in. However, he emphasized that a strong government will need a vibrant national assembly to provide checks and balances. He said that every successful government needs good advisers for better functioning.

When asked if he is Barrow’s principal political adviser, he said for now he is the spokesperson but any appointed adviser by the President will be announced when it happens.