By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan
The Minister of Justice, Dawda Jallow, has expressed his hope that the country’s political leaders would reach a consensus on the retroactivity of the president’s first term when they meet Goodluck Jonathan in Banjul next week.
“I cannot confidently say that we will reach an agreement but I am very hopeful as the discussions continue next week with Jonathan,” Minister Jallow told journalists at the Airport yesterday evening, 25th February 2021.
The nation’s Justice Minister and several other political leaders flew into the country yesterday evening after jetting out to Nigeria for talks with former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan over the “constitutional crisis”.
The Abuja meeting was put off on Wednesday after the discussants failed to reach a consensus on whether President Barrow’s current term should be counted as the first of two terms, among others.
Minister Jallow said the retroactivity of the current term of the president remains “a challenge and that’s what they will try to reach consensus on next week”.
He disclosed that a communique’ will be released on the Abuja trip in the coming days, saying, “the state and his office were not part of the negotiation. We just facilitated it”.
Seedy Njie, who represented the National People’s Party (NPP) together with Mambanyick Njie, said all the political parties have agreed on all the points except for one but he declined to mention the party’s name.
When asked to comment on criticisms of his inclusion in the trip, Njie said: “I will not comment on that because I went there to represent my party. I don’t want to comment on personal issues”.
Citizens Alliance (CA) Presidential flag bearer, Dr Ismaila Ceesay said: “The CA is ready to compromise on the retroactivity of the president’s term if we are guaranteed that there will be a new constitution with three things; a term limit; 50+1 and the quota system. If we are guaranteed these things in a new constitution before the election, we are ready to discuss”.
Dr Ceesay said the Abuja meeting was an avenue for the political parties to brainstorm and “not necessarily a negotiation”.
Asked whether the trip was necessary when the solution to the problem is the President, Dr Ceesay contended: “The President is not the only problem. We have multiple stakeholders in this process. For me, it is not a question about where it takes place. It is about the process and the outcome we should focus on. It could take place anywhere. Constitutional talks during the colonial period took place in London and other European countries. So when there is an impasse there is nothing wrong with having a meeting outside the Gambia”.
“When there was a political impasse in 2016 we went to Dakar to solve the impasse. In fact, the president was sworn in Dakar and Gambians were literally begging for Ecowas, Senegal and the UN to intervene. Why didn’t we say at that time let our courts or the National Assembly decide?” he added.
According to the Political Scientist as far as CA is concerned, “we want a new constitution for this country even if it means going to hellfire to get that constitution we will go. Our transition will be meaningless if we are to go to election again without a new constitution”.
Dr Ceesay said even though “there is still hope that they could reach a consensus” it would be premature for him to say with confidence that they will strike a deal in the final talks in Banjul.
The leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) Mamma Kandeh said his party is also ready to compromise the retroactivity of the president’s first term for the constitution to pass. He said even though President Barrow and his camp created all the mess “all the political party leaders in the talks would have reacted the same way he had reacted to the draft’s retroactivity”.
Meanwhile, the United Democratic Party Flag Bearer, Ousainu Darboe, who’s party is reportedly reluctant to compromise on the retroactivity of the President’s term opted not to talk to journalists at the airport.