Foday Gassama the replacement of the United Democratic Party executive member Ya Kumba Jaiteh whose nomination into the National Assembly has been revoked by President Barrow has said that he is still a member of the UDP as he took oath of office last week amidst a heavily guarded legislative building.
Gassama took his oath pending the outcome of the case before the apex court determining the constitutionality of the President’s decision. However, if the Supreme Court determines in the coming weeks in favour of Jaiteh and nullifies the President’s action, Gassama will vacate his seat for Jaiteh. Contrary to the call by some supporters of Ya Kumba Jaiteh and UDP, there was no protest outside the National assembly which was surrounded by heavy security, rather a small group gathered outside the National Assembly to witness Gassama’s swearing in to show support to President Barrow.
Gassama did not mince his words as he told journalists; “I am still a member of the United Democratic Party despite increased tension between the party and President Barrow.” It could be recalled that the UDP party’s leader Ousainou Darboe and two other ministers have since been fired by President Darboe. The reasons like most firings still a mystery.
However it was a thing that most people predicted and commentators fear that the worst could happen with a recall of some diplomats believed to be UDP members appointed by Darboe whilst he was foreign minister. However, Gassama said Gambians should be cognisant of the fact that the country is bigger than any individual interest and that “whatever we do we should put Gambia’s interest first”. “We should put our individual interest aside if we want to promote peace and tranquility in our quest to develop the Gambia.
We should stop castigating one another and focus on institutional and legal reforms”. Ya Kumba Jaiteh, one of the five people nominated into the lawmaking body by President Barrow, had been sacked by the Gambian leader about three weeks ago and her firing caused huge controversy with claims and counter claims over its constitutionality.
Ya Kumba took a motion to the Supreme Court seeking for the President’s decision to be declared as unconstitutional. Her lawyers have also asked for an injunction to restraint the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Speaker from swearing in Gassama. However, in its ruling on the matter, the Supreme Court refused the request for an injunction and granted the lawmaking body the go-ahead to swear in Gassama and restrained Ya Kumba from interfering in the process.
The five judges argued that its decision is premised on the “presumption” that all official acts are legal. Therefore, it was logical that it allows the President’s decision to stand pending the outcome of the case.