QUESTION OF THE DAY
Some Gambians have been calling on the National Assembly members to flex their muscles in their relation with the executive by relying on their impeachment powers. It is therefore important for all Gambians to know the process of impeaching a President. Section 67 of the Constitution reads:
“(1) The President may be removed from office in accordance with this section on any of the following grounds –
(a) abuse of office, wilful violation of the oath of allegiance or the President’s oath of office, or wilful violation of any provision of this Constitution, or
(b) misconduct in that –
(i) he or she has conducted himself in a manner which brings or is likely to bring the office of President into contempt or disrepute; or
(ii) he or she has dishonestly done any act which is prejudicial or inimical to the economy of The Gambia or dishonestly omitted to act with similar consequences.
“(2) Where the Speaker receives a notice in writing signed by not less than one half of all the members of the National Assembly of a motion for the removal of the President on any of the grounds set out in subsection (1), specifying particulars of the allegations (with any necessary documentation), and requesting that a tribunal be appointed to investigate the allegations, the Speaker shall –
(a) inform the President of the notice;
(b) request the Chief Justice to appoint a tribunal consisting of a Justice of the Supreme Court as Chairman, and not less than four other persons selected by the Chief Justice, at least two of whom shall be persons who hold or have held high judicial office.
“(3) The tribunal shall investigate the matter and shall report to the National Assembly through the Speaker whether or not it finds the allegations specified in the motion to have been substantiated. The President shall have the right to appear and be legally represented before the tribunal.
“(4) If the tribunal reports to the National Assembly that it finds that the particulars of any allegation against the President contained in the motion have not been substantiated, no further proceedings shall be taken under this section in respect of that allegation.
“(5) Where the tribunal reports to the National Assembly that it finds that the particulars of any such allegation have been substantiated, the National Assembly may, on a motion supported by the votes of not less than two thirds of all the members, resolve that the President has been guilty of such abuse of office, violation of oath, violation of the Constitution, or misconduct or misbehaviour as to render him or her unfit to continue to hold the office of President; and where the National Assembly so resolves, the President shall immediately cease to hold office.”
It is abundantly clear that impeaching a president requires judicial review before the exercise of removal by the legislature. This is not an ordinary process and one must have enough evidence of culpability that would be convincing to members of the tribunal established for impeachment.