By MUHAMMED S. BAH
Law makers on Tuesday, 28 February, 2017, held an extraordinary session and passed two bills namely 1997 Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2017 and Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017.
These bills were tabled before NAMs by the Minister for Interior Mai Ahmed Fatty, witnessed by representatives from UN agencies, Minister of Water Resources and National Assembly Matters, James Gomez, members of the Press and Civil Society organisations among many other dignitaries.
The first bill which was the 1997 Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2017, according to the Minister of Interior, seeks to amend the 1997 constitution of the Republic of the Gambia by extending the age at which a judge should vacate his or her office from seventy to seventy five years. He added that it is envisage that this will facilitate and encourage qualified, competent and experienced Gambians to be appointed as judges of the Superior Courts or be elected to Political office.
This Bill, if it becomes law will also removes the upper age limit for qualification to stand for election for the office of president. Section 62(1)(c) will now read, “A person shall be qualified for election as President if he or she has attained the minimum age of thirty years.” This means that any Gambian who is thirty years or more (even seventy or older) is qualified to stand for election for the office of president.
This bill was seconded by Hon. Buba Ayi Sanneh member for Kombo Central.
Law makers described the bill as non-controversial.
On the Election (Amendment) Bill 2017, the Minister said it seeks to encourage the widespread participation of the ordinary citizenry in the new democratic dispensation.
“It does so by amending the Elections Act to reduce the current deposit payable by candidates for elections to the offices of President, member of the National Assembly, Mayor or Mayoress and councillors to the previous deposit figures,” he disclosed.
The bill was seconded by Ebrima Solo Bojang of Foni Bintang Karani.
Now the President nomination deposit will be D10,000 down from D500,000, deposit for Parliamentary election now D5000 instead of D50,000, deposit for Mayoral election D2,500 instead of D50,000 and deposit for council elections from D10,000 to D1,250.
These bills were all supported by the law makers.