Let us now move to the second contention raised by Mr Daffeh.
Secondly, he argued that amending the Constitution regarding the age limit was simply an act of implementing what was in the Coalition agreement.
Mr Daffeh should really take a chronological perspective in dealing with the amendment of section 62 of the Constitution. Every Gambian should be able to recall that section 62 was a subject of discussion after President Barrow appointed Madam Fatoumatta Tambajang as Vice President only for people to point out that this was in violation of section of the Constitution because of the claim that she was above 65 years.
One would recall that a Bill was initially introduced in the National Assembly to amend section 65 of the Constitution when the APRC had the majority of seats before the April 2017 National Assembly elections. At that time Halifa Sallah did write a letter indicating that the way the Bill was introduced and passed was unconstitutional. The Attorney General did eventually concur that the way the Bill was introduced and passed was not in accordance with the Constitution. The Bill was therefore not assented to by the President. It was later introduced after being published in the Gazette in accordance with section 226 of the Constitution. This was assented to by the President thus enabling him to appoint Madam Fatoumatta Tambajang as Vice President. People may attribute the amendment of section 62 of the Constitution to the Coalition Agreement. That is a matter of opinion. The point at issue which was made evident by the statement is that the core pillars of the agreement are as follows:
The President will serve a three-year term. He will not contest the election after three years and will not support any other contestant. This core objective was to go along with a comprehensive constitutional reform package which should have taken care of the term limit, the absolute majority principle in having a second round should no one have absolute majority in the first round, election within 90 in the case of vacancy in the office of the President, the elimination of the upper limit in contesting presidential election, the immunity of the IEC Commissioners from removal from office by the executive. The core reform packages should have taken place between April 2017 and April 2018 without any difficulty.
It was not done because the mindset in cabinet was to reject the three-year term. That is the incontestable truth and we need not go back to the remarks of the members of cabinet regarding the honouring of the three-year agreement. Hence any move reveals the motive of legitimizing an appointee in office rather introducing a first leg of a comprehensive constitutional reform programme. Hence if the executive had the intention of implementing the three-year term it would have quickly amended section 65 to make room for election within 90 days just as it did for section 62 regarding the age limit.
Suffice it to say, the claim that PDOIS could have led the way in calling for amendments is to insinuate that only PDOIS is interested in the Coalition agenda. Why should one expect a party with few seats in the National Assembly to pioneer a Coalition agenda when the majority of parties show very little interest in the speedy implementation of the programmes of the Coalition? PDOIS has no individual agenda and has no interest in pushing anyone to do what all parties should have combined to do in the first place. This is how matters stand.
Let’s move to the third and final contention.