Note: This was first published on 26th January 2017 – only a week after Monster Jammeh’s Departure and the beginning of the Coalition In-fighting. Thank God Madam Tambajang had the fortitude to stay the course. Madi is STILL not happy – his piece is below).

My Gambian brother Madi Jobarteh who has “consulted and exchanged ideas privately” with Madam Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang for a long time, and whose very determination to oust Yahya Jammeh has been inspired by Madam Tambajang, has felt compelled to write to her and ask her not to accept the position of Vice-President.

I am compelled to respond to brother Madi Jobarteh out of respect for the obvious honesty and sincerity with which he writes his letter.

Brother Madi’s main point is that Madam Tambajang, who is 67 years-old should not accept the position of Vice-President because the constitution stipulates that the Vice-President should not be aged above 65. Brother Madi refers to “our” Constitution.

With respect to brother Madi, I have to say that the 65-age stipulation is a null and void insertion into “our” Constitution by a bandit intent on robbing Gambians of their constitutional rights. The Constitution that Gambians voted for never set an age-limit for an office holder – quite rightly too because there is no reasonable justification for barring any adult Gambian citizen from any office in the land on the grounds of age.

Let us be clear about this. Many of the amendments in the present Constitution of The Gambia are bastardisation of The Gambian Constitution to serve one individual: the Dictator Yahya Jammeh. Specifically, the 65-age limit for the Vice-President and President were inserted into the Gambian Constitution to prevent Lawyer Ousainou Darboe from contesting the Presidency against Yahya Jammeh.

Madi Jobarteh

In my humble view, an amendment to The Constitution that is intended to deprive a Gambian of a right conferred by The Constitution is null and void – unless that amendment is approved by a referendum of The Gambian people. It is for that same reason that the National Assembly’s extension of Yahya Jammeh’s term – strictly based on the terms of The Constitution – became null and void: because the National Assembly’s actions intended to deprive a Gambian, Adama Barrow, of a right conferred by Constitution. Again, in my humble view, Adama Barrow’s right to ascend to the Presidency, as guaranteed by The Constitution, overrode the National Assembly’s right to extend Yahya Jammeh’s term, again guaranteed by The Constitution – because Adama Barrow’s right had been approved by a referendum of The Gambian people.

I would therefore argue, respectfully brother Madi, that Madam Jallow-Tambajang’s right to the Vice-Presidency has been approved by a referendum of The Gambian people (through a vote for the Coalition she leads). Yahya Jammeh’s insertion of the 65-age limit for nefarious purposes, is on the contrary unconstitutional because it aims to nullify a right conferred on Gambians’ by the Gambian Constitution – without the assent of The Gambian people. The National Assembly’s actions are also unconstitutional – and that is what a Supreme Court would have decided if we had a functioning Supreme Court.

I therefore advise Mommy Jallow-Tambajang (with much respect to my brother Madi Jobarteh) to ignore my brother Madi Jobarteh.

Dida Jallow-Halake

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MADI JOBARTEH Still Not

Happy!!!

Building The New Gambia With Madi Jobarteh:

My Objection To The Constitutional Amendments

(Dida says: Madi, Madi, you have all called for the VP to be appointed as soon as possible. So Barrow and MPs did that quickly. A New Constitution will be forthcoming. Have some patience Bro!)

WRITTEN BY JOLLOF MEDIA NETWORK

July 27, 2017 Opinion

Why did the Barrow Administration change only two provisions in our Constitution when they had identified in their 2016 Manifesto numerous provisions that they would amend when they assume power? Whose interest are they serving by changing only the age requirement for president and judges?

In his Manifesto, Barrow said his Coalition Government “will promote and entrench the sovereignty of the people; eradicate vestiges of the self-perpetuating rule; and empower citizens to defend their sovereignty and to have control over public authority as equal stakeholders.” Yet the provisions that should ensure this objective have been neglected in favour of those that empower only the Executive. Why?

According to the Coalition Manifesto, Barrow promised to change Section 39 of the Constitution and Sections 11 and 141 of the Elections Act in order to enfranchise Gambians abroad to vote. He promised to restore Section 48 of the Constitution to require presidential candidates to obtain at least 50 percent of the votes cast in the first ballot in order to win an election. His Coalition also promised to subject Section 63(1) to a referendum in order to introduce a two-term limit.

They also said they will seek an act of parliament under Section 63(5) to determine the procedure for a referendum when a vote of no confidence is cast against a President. They also promised to amend Section 91 to prevent a NAM from losing his or her seat just because one is dismissed by one’s party. They promised that Section 42 would be amended so that no IEC Commissioner is arbitrarily removed unless subjected to a judicial inquiry.

Further, the Coalition said they would set up a Constituency Boundaries Commission in compliance with Section 50 of the Constitution.

To empower electorates to recall undesirable NAMs, they said they would enact the procedure for that under Section 92. They also said they will enact other laws such as the Freedom of Information law so that public information is available to the general public all the time. In that regard they promised to repeal the Newspaper Act in order to make it easier and cheaper for one to establish a media house. Why then did they ignore all these provisions but only amended one?

Furthermore, they promised to revoke all pieces of legislation that criminalize speech including libel, sedition, false news and false publication within six months of assuming political office. They also promised to repeal any provision in the “Public Order Act that is not reasonable and justifiable in a democratic society such as those that hinder peaceful procession to highlight public grievances, which is the main tool for exercising civil society oversight over the governance process.”

In fact their Manifesto described the Public Order Act as a law that, “gives too much power to the Inspector General of Police and does fetter freedom of association and assembly.”

Therefore why are these laws or provisions not repealed within these past six months?

Barrow’s Coalition also promised in their Manifesto to amend Section 114 of the Criminal Code that relates to giving false information to a public servant, because they recognize that citizens have a right to petition the president under Section 25(f) of the Constitution. They also promised to invoke Section 18 in order to abolish the death penalty through a referendum within one year of coming to office.

In other words, it is clear from their Manifesto that this Government, which was in the Opposition, knew all the shortcomings in our Constitution and committed themselves to changing them. Yet six months down the line, all they could do is to pick one insignificant provision, given our circumstances to change and leave the rest in place. Why?

The amendments they outlined show that the issue of legal and constitutional reform should be the highest agenda of this government. Hence it is indeed disheartening that our National Assembly Members would rubber-stamp this amendment when they know that we need a new constitution altogether.

Why should we change our Constitution just for the appointment of one person to one position when there are many other qualified Gambians to fill that position? Our National Assembly Members have even deliberately ignored the fact that the Preamble of the Constitution has recognized July 22 as a legal act. Why was this not changed? Further in our Constitution, all of the actions, decisions and persons acting on behalf of AFPRC and July 22 coup have been completely indemnified under Section 232(13). Why was this not also changed?

In fact Section 96(2) gives power to the president to dissolve the parliament and call for new elections at anytime as he deems fit. Yet our NAMs decided to ignore these bad provisions but to change only a tiny provision just for the appointment of one citizen! This is tragic!

On 20th July, the Minister of Justice said the government will pursue the drafting of a new constitution leading to a referendum and that process will take at most two years. Four days later, the president himself spoke in the parliament and reiterated that there will be constitutional reforms.

In the first place one wonders why should it take 18 months to two years to draft a new constitution for the Gambia. I therefore completely disagree with the Justice Minister that we need two years to create a new constitution. We know all of the shortcomings of the Constitution. We have the expertise to draft a new constitution and go to a referendum within one year. Why then take 18 months to two years to do that?

Thus instead of insisting on one amendment, one would expect that the Executive and the Legislature would rather consider putting in motion a process for the total overhaul of this constitution and the creation of a new one. But even if they fail to do that, why then cherry-pick provisions to change and not change all of them at once?

I therefore hereby express my total condemnation of this constitutional amendment on July 25. The country does not need a piecemeal change of the constitution to suit one person or a government. We need a holistic overhaul of the entire constitution so that we have a new constitution to usher in a fresh republic founded on democratic principles and human rights.

The action by both the Executive and Legislature is a betrayal of the deepest aspirations of the people of the Gambia. They have not served the supreme interest of our people and country in anyway by this action.

God Bless The Gambia.

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Building The New Gambia

With Madi Jobarteh: Has

President Barrow Assented

to the Bill?

WRITTEN BY JOLLOF MEDIA NETWORK

August 25, 2017 Opinion No Comments 1268 views

Madi Jobarteh

(JollofNews) – It was on 25 July 2017 that the National Assembly amended Section 62 sub-section 1(b) of the Constitution by removing the age requirement for the qualification for election of a president.  By this amendment, the appointment of the vice president under section 72 sub-section 2 was also affected consequently.

According to Section 100 sub-section 3, when the parliament amends a bill it sends it to the president to assent to it within 30 days. If the president does not wish to assent to it, he would have to send the bill back to the parliament to ask them to reconsider and give his reasons for not assenting to the bill and therefore why he requested the parliament to review their decision.

Today August 24 marks the 30th day since the amendment was done, yet the Office of the President has not issued any public statement as to whether the president has assented to the bill or he has returned it to the parliament to reconsider. The common practice in democracies is for the public to be duly informed as soon as the president assents to a bill or not. Hence it is important that the Office of the President informs Gambians what has happened to the bill amending the age requirement for president and vice president done by the National Assembly since July 25.

It must be noted that if the president assented to the bill, the Constitution further requires, under Section 100 sub-section 6 to now gazette that bill within 30 days from the day the president assented to the bill after which it becomes law. Therefore the need for the public to know if the president has assented to the bill or not is paramount so that we can also track the gazette as to when it was published.

When we know that a bill has been assented to by the president and gazetted as required, then the general public would also know that there is a new law in town. Similarly, it is important that the National Assembly also puts such information in their website as to the exact date on which they sent a bill to the president to assent to it. This will help citizens to track fundamental issues, which also goes to indicate that indeed our democratic and state institutions are performing their functions well. All of these are to ensure that the rule of law is always adhered to thus ensuring that good governance prevails in the Gambia.

I wish to therefore call on the Office of the President to issue a statement to Gambians on the state of affairs regarding the bill on the amendment of Section 62(1)(b) done on 25 July 2017 by the National Assembly.

Gambians have a right to know and the Office of the President has a duty to inform!

God Bless The Gambia.

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Gambia’s President under

pressure to appoint VP

before leaving for Hajj

Written by Sam Phatey on August 25, 2017

SMBC News:

Activists are pressuring the Gambia’s President Adama Barrow to appoint a vice president before he leaves the country to Saudi Arabia, where he would be performing the Muslim pilgrimage.

Mr. Barrow took power after a short struggle in January over ex-President Yahya Jammeh’s unwillingness to step aside but has since not appointed a vice president nearly eight months into his rule.

Barrow’s choice for veep was put on hold after pro-democracy campaigners say Fatoumata Tambajang’s appointment violated the constitution due to an upper age limit that restricted her from taking the office.

The discriminatory law has since been amended by the country’s parliament, which in July voted to remove the restriction, giving way to Mr. Barrow to swear-in his chosen nominee.

The President should follow the dictates of the Constitution by appointing a Vice President. It is quite baffling that after all the efforts to amend the Constitution to suit the president’s desires of appointing Madame Tambajang, we are yet to have a VP,” said human rights activist Pa Samba Jow.

“It will be contemptuous for the president to further drag this matter. Appointing a VP is what history, circumstances and the Constitution demands and I hope President Barrow will do the right thing before embarking on his journey to Mecca.”

Both opposition and Barrow supporters are calling for the issue to be put to rest in an effort for the nation to collectively focus on the government’s development agenda without undue distractions.

Tambajang has been overseeing the vice presidency but it is not clear what is holding back Mr. Barrow from having her sworn-in. Tambajang’s appointment is supported by many, even among those in the opposition.

“The president should appoint a VP to have the full compliment of his cabinet to proceed on the very ambitious agenda he was elected on,” said Karamba Touray, a political activist and supporter of the new government.

“The circumstances surrounding his assumption of office and the comprehensive mess he inherited including deliberate obstacles Yayah Jammeh legislated that are designed to thwart democracy the undoing of which will take time and much effort.”

Gambians are starting to agree on one thing: that seven months is adequate time for the president to stand his full cabinet and the important position of VP to be filled without any further delay.

Barrow had traveled to several at least six countries since coming to power. It will be his second visit to Saudi Arabia, where he took part in a meeting with Muslim leaders and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Barrow on Tuesday unveiled his National Security Council but the Chairperson of the Council, which should be the Vice President was missing, making it incomplete.

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Barrow violates Constitution

with NSC appointment

Written by Sam Phatey on August 25, 2017

SMBC News:

President Adama Barrow’s appointment of Assan Tangara, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defense to the National Security Council appears to be a violation of the Constitution.

Barrow’s unveiling of the NSC membership without key members like the Vice President is being criticized as an assault on common sense and the rule of law.

According to section 78 (1), which establishes the Council, it should comprise of the President, the Vice-President, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior, the Chief of Defence Staff and two other members of the Armed Forces appointed by the President, the Inspector General of Police, the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, and the intelligence adviser to the President.

As the defense minister’s permanent secretary, Mr. Tangara is neither a member of the armed forces nor the intelligence adviser to Mr. Barrow.

So, he is not eligible to serve on the NSC, and if that’s the case, he is doubly ineligible to sit in any of its meetings. Tangara, however, can discuss and take part in making decisions on high-level Gambia defense and security policy.

Several observers have made the same point. One of them is Coach Pa Samba Jow. According to Jow, Barrow’s invoking of Section 78 of the Constitution makes the NSC incomplete with the absence of the Vice President and calls Tangara’s appointment “unconstitutional.”

A former military aide to Gambia’s ex-president, Lt. Col. Lamin Gano decried the absence of a female nominee to the Council, which could be one of the two military officers that Barrow could appoint.

Gano observed that there cannot be an effective security sector reform without a fully staffed and efficient NSC and a Ministry of Defense.

Although Mr. Barrow has no security experience, he appointed himself as Minister of Defense, following a tradition upheld by his predecessors. For Gano, Mr. Barrow has to break from that tradition by appointing a Vice President and naming a Minister of Defense.

Let us remember that the National Security Council shall be responsible for advising the President on all matters relating to the security of The Gambia and the integration of domestic and foreign policies relating to its security, and, under the direction of the President, shall take appropriate measures to safeguard the internal and external security of The Gambia and to provide for the co-operation of the departments and agencies of the Government in that regard.

While this may sound a little off, political considerations should therefore not play a prominent role in the highest-level interagency discussions and national security matters.

The appointment of Mr. Tangara and absence of the Vice President is something which is a radical departure from the constitutional requirement of the National Security Council.

The Barrow administration already seems to be marginalizing the influence of career officials with extensive security experience at the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Interior, Defense Headquarters and Police Headquarters.

For the most part, it is not taking chances afraid of bringing Jammeh’s loyalists closer, who may be spying and passing information to the ex-ruler.

For now, what is much is obvious is that Assan Tangara’s presence on the National Security Council and the failure to appoint a Vice President is not just terrible but illegal

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