By Kebba Jeffang
Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson of the Coalition government on Thursday, February 23, informed the journalists at the press conference that they are still in discussion regarding the procedure of national assembly election ahead of the 6th April IEC calendar but are yet to be conclusive. This was held at Kairaba Beach hotel.
He said this is the second phase of the transition process and many people are asking how the coalition will contest in the April, 6th national assembly election. He said the fact finding missions have been initiated by ECOWAS, UN, EU and other bodies in order to examine the state of preparedness of holding the April 6 election. He said the coalition executive have been meeting to deliberate on this very subject.
“I am to inform you that the position of the coalition is yet to be conclusive and we would want to inform the general public that the deliberation is still going on and once we adopt a position it will be conveyed to the general public. Anybody who goes around at the moment in the name of the coalition on this matter will actually not be speaking the language of the executive of the coalition. “Notwithstanding, every Gambian citizen has a right to elect or be elected and is free to go about to seek the mandate of the people on one’s own platform,” he said.
He said the constitution of the country vested executive power in the President and therefore the executive arm of the government involves him and the cabinet and according to him the appointments are almost complete. He said the same constitution creates another body that makes laws for the country as the executive power exercised on those laws. He said the national assembly has the responsibility of passing bills which if assented to become laws noting that section 96 of the constitution establishes that the national assembly election must be held 4 months after the holding of the presidential election.
“So it is important for all of you to understand that the national assembly comprises 53 elected members from 53 constituencies and 5 nominated members appointed by the President. The 5 nominated members when they are appointed would also be subjected to further consideration by the national assembly whose members are empowered to elect one of those nominated members to be speaker of the national assembly and deputy of the national assembly” he said.
Sallah went on to state that “the national assembly election would provide the basis for having members whose powers would be to consider bills brought to them by both the executive and even by the members of the national assembly itself for consideration and they are required to consider the explanatory provisions that must accompany those bill indicating the defects the bills aim to remedy, and the law that they want to put in place to remedy those defects in any aspect of national life.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Sallah when questioned about what role he will play as he is not in the cabinet, said, it is important for people to understand that the National Assembly is as important as the executive in the affairs of the governance. According to Halifa, the national assembly’s function to check the executive is crucial as it guides them in running the country.
“I understand that everybody wants Halifa Sallah to occupy big positions and I thank them for that and even the President wishes the same,” he said.
Mr. Sallah said prestige doesn’t matter but where to serve diligently matters. He said the national assembly appears insignificant because of the past government control over it with his party dominance but added that national assembly’s role is very crucial. He said such mistake should not be allowed again where people will perceive the house as less important compared to the executive.
“The national assembly is very important and it should be filled by competent people. Remember this is where ministers will be bringing bills and policies if they look around without seeing any faces that they respect that may not serves the interest of the country,” he said.
He said the President cannot enter any international agreement without being first ratified by the national assembly.