Below is the letter written by Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of PDOIS, to the Attorney General on the unconstitutional declaration of Gambia as an Islamic republic by President Yahya Jammeh at a recent political rally at Brufut attended by APRC party militants:
SUBJECT: ON THE UNCONSTITUTIONAL DECLARATION OF THE GAMBIA AS AN ISLAMIC REPUBLIC
The false declaration of the Gambia as an Islamic Republic has engendered the widest media coverage that the country has ever witnessed. There is need to retract the false information and give a correct picture to the whole world.
Why is this memorandum addressed to you? The answer is simple. Section 73 Subsection (3) states, “The Cabinet shall be responsible for advising the President with respect to the policies of the Government ………..”
Section 72 Subsection (2) adds, “The Attorney General shall be the principal legal adviser to the Government ……….”
It is therefore your duty to inform the President of the Republic that he has no locus standi to declare the Gambia an Islamic Republic. To do so is to subvert the 1997 Constitution. Needless to say, the President of a Republic is the last person who should subvert the Constitution on which the legitimacy of his government rests.
Two legitimate Constitutions cannot co-exist side by side. One must be a true constitution and the other a farce. In this case the 1997 Constitution which has been approved at a Referendum and came into force on 16th January 1997 is the real Constitution of the Republic of the Gambia and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic declared in Brufut does not exist. This is why no one in the world knows its content.
It is therefore important for the Government to waste no time in retracting the declaration. It is an elementary truth that no Republic could exist without a Republican Constitution which establishes the laws and institutions of a state. An Islamic Republic has to have its own Constitution which would indicate the qualifications and roles of presidents, ministers, parliamentarians and judges. The Constitution would have to come into force before one could declare an Islamic Republic.
Needless to say, no new Constitution could legally come into being in the Gambia. The 1997 Constitution is the Fundamental law and it could only be changed by amendments as provided for in Section 226 of the Constitution. No amendments has taken place or could take place to Change the nature of the Republic as enshrined in Chapter One Subsections 1 and 2 without a long process lasting more than 6 months which must culminate with the holding of a referendum.
Section 67 of the Constitution is clear. The President could be removed from office on the following grounds:
“(a) abuse of office, willful violation of the oath of allegiance or the President’s oath of office, or willful violation of any provision of this Constitution, or
(b) misconduct in that –
(i) he or she has conducted himself in a manner which brings or is likely to bring the office of President into contempt or disrepute; or
(ii) he or she has dishonestly done any act which is prejudicial or inimical to the economy of The Gambia or dishonestly omitted to act with similar consequences.”
The president took an oath to defend the 1997 Constitution. Any declaration which is at variance with the provisions of the Constitution is a violation of his oath of office.
It is your duty to explain these facts to the President to prevent him from bringing the office of President into disrepute.
While anticipating your maximum cooperation
Yours in the Service of the People
For The Central Committee