By Kebba Jeffang
Mr. Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson of the Gambia government (for now) told at a news conference on Tuesday, January 24, that the appointment of the Madam Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang as the Vice-President of the Gambia is a matter of concern to them but subjected to review by the president.
Mrs. Jallow’s appointment by President Adama Barrow which was confirmed to the media on Monday has brought about a stiff debate on the public spaces such as Facebook questioning her illegibility by virtue of the Constitutional age provision of 65. She is more than this age, many say.
According to Sallah, her appointment was done in good faith being a prominent member as the Chair of the platform that led to the formation of the coalition of 8 political establishments.
“Essentially I have spoken to President Barrow that there are many concerns being raised. But we must also understand that in the Gambian Constitution which will have to be reformed, we do not have parliamentary oversight of cabinet appointments. This is a principal recommendation to be made to President Barrow to ensure that in terms of the Constitutional reforms that will be there, then we will not have been talking about this issue because the parliament would have vetted to know that the person being appointed is actually qualified to hold such posts,” he said.
Sallah said by way of clarification he informs that the reason why President Barrow made it a primary decision to appoint a vice president is to ensure that the advisers will have somebody to work with as we put the government ministries into operation.
Referring to Madam Jallow’s appointment, the former parliamentarian said “it is still a matter of concern but people will understand that the appointment was done in good faith based on the facts that were available at the time and I am sure if new facts emerge that may lead to a certain review by the president of the republic.”
“So if anybody observes the breach of the Constitution you are free to share that with the president and obviously what the Constitution says is what the president has sworn to do and that is what he will do and that is what he told me. So in short the issue that has been broadening in the public space is an issue when you raise them under a democratic order becomes an advice for those who manage the affairs of the state to know exactly what to do to prevent any anomalies in administration,” he noted.
Sallah said the qualification for the vice president is embedded in section 70(2) of the Constitution:
“The cabinet formation started with the vice President and of course more names should have been mentioned but the president has been carefully advised that he constitutes a vetting committee which will take into consideration of all the Constitutional provisions regarding the qualifications so that from henceforth all names that come would have been vetted before coming into public domain so that people will actually come to a decision of building greater confidence in the government,” says Sallah.
He added that apart from political consideration technocratic consideration will be given in the appointment of ministersHe said therefore Barrow will be releasing the full cabinet when both components are finalized which is expected to be soon. He said they are delayed to finalize the setting up cabinet because of the act of the ex-president to insist to leave power and to cut all communication channels for smooth transition.
He said already the government has already started working as the current secretary general is instructed to work with all the permanent secretaries to continue working while the ministerial appointments are being done. He said the departments are working already which is why schools are resumed while those in detention are being released too.