The departed U.S. ambassador to The Gambia Patricia Aslup, did recall that the coalition government led by President Adama Barrow promised to serve a transition period of three years.
“But I did understand that many people who voted for the coalition also recognise that the constitution sets the term to five years,” “I think, I, like everyone, understood that the coalition government would stay in for three years as a transition government. But you know circumstances change, and my take is, perhaps they realised three years is not really long enough to really turn things around. But I would leave that to the members of the coalition to decide what they are going to do,” Ms. Patricia Alsup explained.
Many people are citing the Constitution as the Alfa and Omega of this three or five year term for the president to stay in office. Yes true enough. Section 63 (1) states: The term of office of an elected President, shall subject to subsection (3) and (6) be for a term of five years……. This raises the question whether the Coalition’s agreement is unintended violation of the relevant provisions of the constitution.
However this cannot stop a president calling for early election or from him resigning his office as President. The bottom line is that he cannot exceed the five years but can cut short his tenure.
Gambia Coalition 2016, was a coalition of seven Gambian political parties, Civil society group and one independent candidate created to field and support a unity candidate for the Gambian opposition in the 2016 Gambian presidential election. The coalition selected real estate developer and deputy treasurer (and Presidential candidate) of the United Democratic Party (UDP) Adama Barrow as their candidate. Barrow officially left the UDP to allow him to run as an independent candidate, although his candidacy continued to be supported by the UDP through its membership in the coalition
Apart from the United democratic party (UDP) the other parties in the coalition were the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), the National Reconciliation Party (NRP), the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC), the National Convention Party (NCP), the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the Gambia Party for Democracy and Progress (GPDP). The independent female candidate and anti-female genital mutilation activist Dr.IsatouTouray and a civil society group headed by FatoumattaTambajang also joined the coalition.
As we speak, President Barrow, has shifted from the Coalition’s goals and objectives. President Barrow never ascended into the Presidency, through an individual effort, but through a collective concerted effort. There is a shift in position from the president to forget that he has been put in place by a coalition government and not by a party. “The president contested as an Independent candidate and none could understand why the Chairperson of the Coalition should be removed as Vice President and be replaced by OusainouDarboe, they are all part of the Coalition and that Coalition spirit and unity should survive until the end of the transitional government, if not, they have betrayed the trust of the Gambian people; and they have betrayed the trust that God has put in the Coalition. Those coalition members who have been ousted from their ministerial positions now have the leverage to criticize and hold the government accountable if they are departing from what Gambians have voted for.
The Coalition’s agreement can be construed as contractual in nature that only binds the parties of the contract. Therefore, it is plausible to suggest that the Coalition’s agreement cannot limit the term of presidency. In any case if we accept the fact that, a contract may be terminated by the conduct of the parties to the agreement, therefore, the Coalition’s stance on the parliamentary election serves as a death knell to its initial agreement. As we conclude, do we hear from the grapevine that President Barrow is receiving stick from some diehard UDP about his desire to form a political party? Strange days ahead and an interesting end to 2019. What does the crystal ball has hidden for 2020?