Section 193 of the Constitution states that, “Local government administration in The Gambia shall be based on a system of democratically elected councils with a high degree of local autonomy.”
However, the Local Government Act as amended by the former regime has provisions that concentrates power in the hands of the executive and deprives local government authorities of any autonomy. Just to cite an example, section 20 of this Act gives power to the Executive to remove an elected mayor/mayoress, deputy mayor/mayoress, chairperson, deputy chairperson or councillor from office.
Under the former regime a council was like an extended arm of the central government taking directives from regional governors.
The New Gambia demands that we pursue devolution of power and ensure councils enjoy a high degree of autonomy as required by section 193 of the Constitution. Regional Governors should be government representatives in the regions coordinating the activities of the Central Government in the regions and should not wield power over the councils.
To proceed with the local government elections and inaugurate the councils without amending the Local Government Act would be like putting old wine in a new bottle.