Sunday, November 17, 2019

What are the positions of the political parties on President Barrow’s mandate?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

A review of the positions of the political parties in the country on President Barrow’s mandate would reveal that Madam Fatoumata Tambajang did issue a statement echoed by state house that five political parties, namely, GPDP, GMC, NCP, NRP and PPP have endorsed a five-year term for President Barrow.

PDOIS challenged the view that the decision was based on an amendment of the Coalition Agreement and issued the following statement:

PDOIS PRESS RELEASE ON THE STATE OF PLAY OF THE COALITION 2016 AGREEMENT

Political parties are instruments of leadership. If they are fit for purpose, their every statement and action must be guided by clarity and sincerity. This is precisely the reason why PDOIS refused to make any comment when it received news from state house that Coalition 2016 members have extended the term of the president for five years. Instead we wrote the following letter to Madam Fatoumatta Tambajang for further clarification:
Ref: P/COAL/2/10/19/(1)
2nd October, 2019

Dear Honourable Jallow Tambajang,

SUBJECT: CLARIFICATION OF UTTERANCES ON PURPORTED AMENDMENT OF COALITION 2016 AGREEMENT
The media houses have been approaching PDOIS for explanation whether the text of an amendment to the 17th October 2016 Coalition agreement had been agreed upon and signed by coalition partners. We are not aware of the crafting and signing of any text purporting to be an amendment to the original text signed by Coalition partners and are therefore finding it difficult to give accurate information to the media, on the subject matter.
It should therefore be highly appreciated if you would clarify whether any document purporting to be an amended version of the coalition agreement has been signed. If such a document exists, please forward it to us before Monday, 7 October 2019, when we intend to issue a Press Release on the matter.
While anticipating your maximum cooperation
I remain
Yours In the Service of the people
Secretary General

It is prudent to report that we have not received any clarification on this matter from Madam Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang. PDOIS has made it very clear that the Coalition 2016 Agreement was a tactical instrument aimed at implementing the strategic objective of effecting regime change in 2016.

The strategic objective was to put an end to self-perpetuating rule by the voluntary acceptance of the coalition sponsored candidate to serve a three-year term and preside over a free and fair election in which he/she would not participate or give support to any candidate. In our view, President Barrow, like all other contestants during the Coalition 2016 Convention, knew very well that the President of the Republic of The Gambia has a five year mandate. The act of resigning from one’s party and accepting a three-year mandate was dictated by necessity to form a coalition.

Contextually, at the time of establishing Coalition 2016, the members of Coalition 2016 could make or break a candidate by giving or withholding their support for a candidate.
On the other hand, once a person becomes president he/she assumes powers that Coalition members cannot withhold from him/her. Those are executive powers guaranteed by the Constitution and defended by the security apparatus of the state. Hence President Barrow has the absolute power to decide whether to serve a three year or five-year term.
Section 63 of the Constitution provides for a five-year term while section 65 of the Constitution provides for resignation before the end of the five-year term. Once he assumed office no Coalition agreement could force him to serve a three year or five-year term. Hence the only role the Coalition members could play is to ask him to honour the Coalition agreement. Should he refuse to do so it is mandatory for him to abide by the five-year limit. It becomes futile for any group to announce that they are giving him a term that is already provided by the Constitution. We therefore hope that the statement made by the Vice President on behalf of the President, that he has long decided, along with his cabinet to serve a five-year term since his first cabinet meeting, confirms the current position of the president.

PDOIS will now rely on this position to prepare its tactics and strategies for the next electoral cycle. In making such a decision, PDOIS is guided by its Congress Resolutions and the realisation that there are two powers that could effect change – the power of the people and the power of the security forces. Both powers must be governed by law in order to be restrained.

Democracy calls for the power of the people to be restrained by electoral processes to effect democratic change, as long as a government respects constitutional safeguards for conducting elections. On the other hand, it calls for the power of the security forces to be restrained by civilian control of a government deriving its authority from the will of the people.

If these two restraints are removed mob rule or military rule must be the order of the day. Gambians should now take their stand on what role they are to play in shaping The Gambia they want. All political parties should put their way forward before the people to enable the people to decide how to carve the future they want for themselves, their children and their children’s children. This is how matters stand. (End of PDOIS statement)
The GMC, in a press release, stated that Madam Tambajang’s pronouncement did not reflect their party’s position.

“GMC as a party was never consulted about the visit to State House, nor does it give its blessing to an extension of the president’s mandate. Major and important decisions like that can only be approved by GMC national Congress,” the press release stated.

The UDP has issued the following statement:

UNITED DEMOCRATIC PARTY (UDP) POSITION ON COALITION 2016
In 2016 the United Democratic Party good faith entered into negotiations with other parties to form Coalition 2016 to amongst other things select a candidate to contest on the coalition’s platform the 2016 Presidential Elections.

The terms and conditions negotiated by and agreed to by the Parties to Coalition 2016 contain several conditions but for the purposes of this statement four conditions are pertinent and these are:

1) Only flag-bearers of political parties or as independent candidates were eligible to contest in the primary process of selection of the Coalition Independent Candidate. This condition was complied with by Political Parties proposing Presidential candidates.
2) Each aspiring candidates agreed to participate in the primary process by providing 70 delegates from across the Gambia.

3) All contestants at the primary process agreed that the person selected during the primary contest will resign from his or her Political Party/ Independent organisation and become a Coalition Independent Candidate for the 2016 Presidential Election. Condition fulfilled.

4) The Coalition Independent Candidate agreed to serve for three years as President if he wins the Presidential Elections of 2016 and to resign as President at the end of the three years and supervise fresh elections in which elections he shall not participate. Pending
The position of the UDP is that if any of these conditions were not agreed upon by the parties to Coalition 2016 there would not have been a Coalition at all.

And given the sequential nature of these commitments there is substantial performance of the Coalition 2016 Agreement by the parties and there are no reasons to fail or refuse to perform the fourth and last condition the time which is fast approaching.

Consequently the UDP wishes to clearly state that as a stakeholder in Coalition 2016 the Party supports the terms and conditions of Coalition 2016 Agreement as restated above.
The UDP urges all the parties of the Coalition 2016 Agreement, particularly the principal beneficiary of Coalition 2016, H.E President Adama Barrow to be faithful to the terms and conditions of the Coalition 2016 and to also fulfill his promise to the Gambian electorates that if elected he will serve a term of three years and step down to supervise free, fair and transparent Presidential elections.(End of UDP statement)

Foroyaa will contact the other political parties to get their concrete statements on the issue before making an analysis.

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