Monday, November 18, 2019

Is The EU Ambassador Correct In Stating That The MOU Was Not Signed And Was Also In Contravention To The Constitution?

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Foroyaa approached Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson of the Coalition and the President at that time. He said that there is nothing like an unsigned memorandum of understanding in law. Only a signed document could be referred as a memorandum of understanding. Drafts are drafts until they are signed.

He explained that President Barrow could not have been elected a flagbearer on 30th October 2016 if an agreement was not signed by all stakeholders, including the presidential candidates. The only agreement that gave rise to the convention was signed on 17th October 2016.

The process started with the signing of a press release on 14th October, followed by the agreement of 17th October culminating with the holding of a convention on 30th October. All the stakeholders who signed the agreement unanimously agreed on all the processes that followed thereafter. Those who wish to comment on this matter are advised to do their homework.

The second point is about constitutionality. A constitution cannot be understood if you examine a provision in isolation from others. One can only understand a constitution if one looks at the interconnections between the provisions.

Section 63 of the Constitution provides for a mandate of five years. This means that a president cannot exceed a mandate of five years as a constitutionally elected president. This does not mean that the president cannot vacate his or her seat before the elapse of the five year period. A constitution must take note of the fact that a president may die, resign, etc. This is why section 65 provides for vacancy in the office of president before the end of the five year term. The Coalition envisaged that there will be constitutional amendment to ensure the election of president within 90 days of the occurrence of a vacancy. Hence the reason why it is indicated in the agreement that the president would not seek to participate in the election as candidate or support any other candidate to ensure a level ground for multi-party democracy. Hence President Barrow has the prerogative to resign within three years or go by the mandate to stay for five years without violating any constitution. The choice is his. That is how matters stand.

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