By Madi Jorbarteh
As we draw closer to the end of term of the tenure of the outgoing president, yet he remains recalcitrant in accepting the verdict of the people, it is now time for the National Assembly to assume its constitutional responsibilities. All categories of the Gambian society have spoken in no uncertain terms and various groups have shown their open and unfettered support for Adama Barrow as the elected president of the republic. The entire Gambian population is now determined and prepared to defend our vote. The international community has similarly shown that they are fully behind the people of the Gambia by calling on outgoing president to step down. Yet the outgoing president continues to make ridiculous statements about the elections while filing an ill-informed petition to a non-existing yet illegally constituted Supreme Court, which intends to start sitting on January 10. Meantime ECOWAS, backed by the African Union and the United Nations and governments of the world, has indicated that come January 19 if Jammeh refuses to step down they will resort to the use of military force to end his misrule. Since December 9 they have been frantically engaged in diplomacy to avert conflict.
Now I ask, does the National Assembly wish to tell us that they are not aware of these developments in our country to the point that they have remained mute like a silencer? Given the fast approaching fateful January 19 day, and the continued refusal of Jammeh to see reason and abide by our constitution, the onus is now on the National Assembly as the only constitutional authority in our republican system with the capacity to bring sanity to the outgoing Pres. Jammeh and save the Gambia. I wish to put it to the members of the National Assembly that they have a duty to prevent a military conflict in our small but beautiful land by prevailing on the outgoing president to humble down with faith and respect the verdict of the people.
Advice The Outgoing President
Section 102 spells out the functions of the National Assembly and in that regard Subsection (a) empowers the National Assembly to ‘advise the President on any matter which lies within his or her responsibility’. The first responsibility of the president is to respect and defend the constitution. But on December 9, it is clear that Yaya Jammeh has reneged on his oath of office by flouting Section 6 of the constitution and intends to further violate Section 63(2). By these actions he has already violated his responsibilities under Section 17, which puts an obligation on the president to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens.
Hence the National Assembly must now rise up to its obligation to advise the president as per Section 102(a) to withdraw his December 9 infamous statement because it was unconstitutional, politically motivated with bad faith and endangers national security.
Vote of No Confidence
Failure of the president to heed to the advice of the National Assembly, the parliamentarians yet still have other powers given to them by the constitution to pass a vote of no confidence in the president under Section 63 Subsection 3. Hence the National Assembly still holds the key to our salvation and the prevention of armed conflict in our dear country. They must be seen to fulfil these solemn national duties.
Impeachment of the Outgoing President
Apart from a vote of no confidence and failure of the president to heed parliamentary advice, yet the constitution still gave powers to the National Assembly to impeach the president for misconduct. Section 67 Subsection 2 empowers the National Assembly to undertake impeachment proceedings of the president for misconduct, which are spelt out in Section 67 Subsection 1. The grounds for removal of the president under the first paragraph of this section are where he or she is found to cause ‘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 Consultation’ or if he or she misconducted himself ‘in a manner which brings or is likely to bring the office of President into contempt or disrepute’. Furthermore the second paragraph of Section 67 Subsection 1 also states that a president can be impeached for having ‘dishonestly done any act which is prejudicial or inimical to the economy of The Gambia or dishonestly omitted to act with similar consequences.’
Here again we can see that outgoing Pres. Yaya Jammeh has abused his powers, wilfully violated the oath of office of the president and flouted many other provisions of this constitution based on his utterances and actions since December 9. The deployment of soldiers into the offices of the IEC and the continued denial of media coverage to Adama Barrow by GRTS are additional actions that severely violate the constitution. Furthermore, by making GAMTEL to close down Internet and telephony services on December 1 coupled with the deployment of soldiers in combat readiness around the country without a state emergency or declaration of war, all constitute actions that damage the economy of the Gambia. These actions and utterances including his statements with the African Bar Association as well as statements by his associates, notably National Assembly Member Seedy Njie are major factors causing anxiety in the Gambia and slowing down the economy. Their statements by Yaya Jammeh and Seedy Njie constitute threats to the peace and security of the country as they peddled tribalism, threatened constitutionality and incitements to violence against certain individuals and communities. These are clear and justifiable grounds for impeachment.
Meet with the Outgoing President
In light of the foregoing, it is therefore utterly urgent and necessary that the Speaker of the National Assembly Abdoulie Bojang together with the Majority Leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta and the Minority Leader Samba Jallow and all the members demand an urgent meeting with the outgoing Pres. Yaya Jammeh to advise him to withdraw his December 9 illegal utterance. They should advise him to go back to his December 2 concession of defeat and promise to support the transition process. They should advise him to therefore reactivate the transition process and abide by the terms of the constitution for the inauguration of Adama Barrow on 19 January 2016.
Failure to heed to the advise of the National Assembly, I would call on the Speaker, the Majority and Minority leaders and all members to therefore invoke Section 63(3) to pass a motion of no confidence in him. They should follow this with invoking as well Section 67(2) to impeach him for gross misconduct.
Abandon Yaya Jammeh and Embrace the Gambia
In addition to the constitutional responsibilities placed on them, members of the National Assembly also owe it to their country as the representatives of their people to abandon Yaya Jammeh in order to prevent a violent conflict from erupting in the Gambia. I therefore call on all National Assembly Members to publicly isolate and disassociate themselves, individually and collectively from the outgoing president in the supreme interest of the Gambia, their motherland. All sectors of Gambian society have spoken, yet the National Assembly as an institution and as individual members have remained mute. Bear in mind that failure to play your part as effectively as you should but letting the country to plunge into conflict, then you should consider yourselves as accomplices in the crime against the Gambia. History will judge you as those sons and daughters who abandoned their motherland at her most painful moment in favour of a dishonest, unpatriotic, greedy and murderous tyrant.
Let us engage our National Assembly Members
I wish to call on all Gambians to impress on their National Assembly Members to realise that they are the direct representatives of the people hence they must be seen to uphold and defend the will of the people. Our will was expressed on December 1, and the National Assembly must realise that it is the most important national institution in the Gambia that cannot be seen to be a bystander in the affairs of the people. They must not aid and abet any attempt, project or individual who wishes to dilute and abrogate the will of the people. This is a solemn responsibility placed on the National Assembly by the constitution under Section 112 paragraph (a),
‘All members shall regard themselves as servants of the people of The Gambia desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people, and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole and in doing so, shall be influenced by the dictates of conscience and the national interest.
On the basis of this provision, and in the face of a looming national tragedy and in fulfilment of my constitutional responsibility and because of my love for country, I hereby call on the National Assembly to assume their national and constitutional responsibilities without delay. Failure to fulfil their historic and patriotic duty, they risk plunging the country into a conflict of far reaching consequences for which the people of the Gambia will neither forget nor forgive them forever and ever.
For the Gambia, Our Homeland. #GambiaHasDecided