QUESTION OF THE DAY
This is what he said among other things when interviewed by Lamin Njie of Fatu Network on 11th July 2019:
“…. we should blame the people who think they know the constitution, whilst they know nothing about the constitution, who put us all into this mess. They are the problems in this country anytime a person loses his life, the people who went together put us into this mess, the Halifa Sallah, other people who think they know the constitution and they put us into all this mess, they are responsible.
“They should know the president should serve five years according to the constitution, if you don’t know about that then I’m embarrassed. Let us forget about Ousainou Daboe, he didn’t do anything. The people who put the three years together, should know better. If there is any problem in this country, they are the cause of it, let me tell you that.
“I’m not part of this, whether Gambians come out on the streets, Dibba is not going, when Gambians don’t come out Dibba is not going, because I’m not part of it, I don’t care.
“If Gambians think what he said they should hold him responsible, let him go out, if Gambians think he should serve five years, let him be. For me I’m waiting for him anywhere in 2021.”
Foroyaa put these very words to Halifia Sallah as the person who first convened talks with the presidential candidates in 2016 and later became the spokesperson of both coalition 2016 and the president. This is what he had to say:
Emotions and partisan interest should be set aside when analysing events that led to the change of government through the ballot box on 2nd December 2016. Everyone considers this as an achievement that one would like to associate oneself with. There is no single Gambian who would not be proud to be associated with such a historic event as well as the peaceful transfer of power that followed the victory. How was it possible to have effected such a change?
That is the question. Mr Dibba has not explained. This is the chain that makes it possible for him and others to be here in The Gambia today and speaking freely on Fatu Network. All Gambians are aware that when the impasse took shape the spokesperson gave Jammeh a deadline that when his term expires he would be a rebel. How then could Mr Dibba allude that some people did not know what the Constitution says regarding a five year term of the presidency under section 63 of the Constitution when the person whose name is mentioned is the very person who asked the nation to wait for the expiry of the five year mandate of the outgoing president during the impasse? Representatives of political parties should state facts and avoid misleading the electorate.
Secondly, Mr Dibba did not explain the circumstances that gave rise to the proposal for a three-year term for the presidency. He only alluded that this was unconstitutional and that those who were part of this would be blamed for any violence that now occurs regarding the subject of a three-year term. Is serving a mandate of three years unconstitutional? Section 65 of the constitution reads:
“(1) The office of President shall become vacant during the term of a presidency –
(a) on the death or resignation of the President;
(b) on the President ceasing to hold office under section 66 or section 67.”
It is very clear from section 65 that a president can vacate his seat as a result of resignation, death, infirmity or impeachment for corruption and so on. This has been explained ad infinitum. Party representatives should help the Gambian people to understand the constitution rather than sweep the facts under the carpet just to mislead the electorate. Hence it is clear that under the Constitution, the President could resign before the end of the five year term established under section 63 of the Constitution. A president cannot serve more than a five-year term but could choose to serve less than a five year term.
Now the question arises: What gave rise to the three-year mandate? The answer is simple. The three-year mandate is not an imposition on any presidential candidate. It was one of the criteria established by those who agreed to establish Coalition 2016. There were six presidential aspirants when the negotiation was first initiated at Kairaba.
It was agreed that the objective was to put an end to self-perpetuating rule by removing the government that has stayed for 22 years and creating a level ground for future multi party contests. We agreed that the next president after Jammeh would owe no allegiance to any political party. He would stand as an independent candidate, serve for three years and would not contest the next following election but would preside over a nonpartisan cabinet to carry our constitutional reform and institutional reforms, unify the nation, open the media for citizenship education to build a sovereign republic with a people who would learn, through truth and reconciliation commission to repent for wrong doing and receive forgiveness so that we do a good start without leaving any one behind.
It was anticipated that during the three year transition, the coalition was to implement the coalition programme. The criteria were accepted by all who participated in the convention. In fact, those who followed the events would have heard Halifa Sallah declaring that he would serve only a two-year term. It should be evident to every brain capable of thinking that when the leaders met to establish the criteria to be a Coalition candidate their minds were focused on a transitional government that would have authority to win the support of all Gambians because of the willingness to show its lack of hunger for power.
This noble objective should not now be trivialized by those who want to substitute facts with fiction. The most illiterate of Gambians know that the president should serve five years. The criteria set by the coalition were designed to create a platform that makes unity possible. The success of the Coalition is the proof of the viability of the platform of the Coalition. Should we now enter a blame game as to who encouraged President Barrow to renege the three-year mandate? Only those who have penchant for trivialities would enter into a debate on the obvious.
It is clear to all Gambians that the agenda set for the creation of a transitional programme that all Gambians could own without any party affiliation or ethnolinguistic consideration has been torn to pieces. As political parties and personalities pursue varied interests after power was assumed, maturity dictates that if one trips on the way one should look back and find out the impediments and seek remedy to any error made.
It is important for each Gambian to know the significance of 2nd December 2016. This is the day when the sovereign Gambia was born. For 52 years the Gambian did not witness a change through the box. On 2nd 2016 each Gambian was fully aware that one’s vote can make a difference since each Gambian voted in secret confirms that each is a commander of his or her own destiny.
How could any Gambian blame a Hailfa Sallah or anyone else for one’s action? How could those who work to enable each Gambian to have the capacity to change your country through your vote be held responsible for any violence that occurs in the future? The law of natural justice dictates that each is held accountable for one’s words and deeds. I am not sure which scale of justice Mr Dibba is relying on to say that Halifa is responsible for what people do in the future? Can anyone who loves truth and justice think in this way? The new Gambian should decide and give a response.
In my view a new Gambian should be born who would no longer accept to be anybody’s tool. Each Gambian should now own his or her own mind, listen to all views and accept those ideas that serve the welfare of his people in general and his or her own interest in particular.