By Lamin Sanyang
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Senior Lawyer Hawa Sisay Sabally has called on the Barrow Administration to appoint a vice president without any further delay.
“I call on the Barrow Administration to appoint a Vice President without delay,” Lawyer Hawa Sisay Sabally said.
Lawyer Sisay Sabally made these statements as a panelist at the national stakeholders conference on justice and human rights at Kairaba Beach Hotel.
The senior lawyer in her observation on the challenges and opportunities of the 1997 Constitution has quoted section 77 subsection (3) to called on the new administration to appoint a vice president without delay though she said the constitution does not specify a time frame but the functions of the vice president cannot remain vacant for many months. She referred to instances where the constitution mandates the vice president to represent the president of the republic at the National Assembly. She warned the Barrow administration to move away from the bad practices of the past.
“I recommend for presidential candidates to have running mates or time frame for the appointment of the vice president to avoid what is happening now,” Lawyer Sisay Sabally pointed out.
The senior lawyer went further to make recommendations for two term limits in office for the president and the abolition of age limit. She also made recommendations for the presidential elections to be held on the eve of the expiration of the president’s term in office so that if defeated he or she will vacate his office and the state house within 48 hours. She called for the amendment of the section that stops those dismissed from work from contesting in presidential elections.
Lawyer Hawa Sisay Sabally recommended the appointment and dismissal of judges by the president to be abolished and handled the Judicial Service Commission.
“The 1997 Constitution gives too much powers to the president,” Lawyer Ida Drammeh stated.
She added:”No matter how good the president may be he or she should not be given too much powers. ”
Lawyer Drammeh quoted section 68 subsection (5) of the constitution that talks about the salary and business engagements of the president. She called for clarity on the matter to distinct the two. She further stated that the immunity of the president should seize immediately the person leaves office.
“The biggest challenges of the 1997 Constitution is when the military decrees passed by the former Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council AFPRC were made part of our laws,” Lawyer Drammeh asserted.
She further pointed out:”Several sections of the economic crimes are not in consistent with the provisions yet this military decrees remained in our statue book.”
She buttressed the role of the security officers which she said should be highlighted in the next constitution to avoid what has happened in the past. She also said that the new constitution should capture the president’s oath of office and the one who should preside over it. She talked about the lack of clarity on the matter.
The Chief Justice in his closing statement revealed the intention of the state to draft a new constitution rather than taking a piecemeal approach because there are many amendments which could affect the current constitution.
“There is a strong case for the drafting of a new constitution under the leadership of a new group of experts set by the state,” Chief Justice Hassan B Jallow said.
Chief Justice Jallow highlighted that the newly drafted constitution will be subjected to a countrywide referendum.
Meanwhile, a Zambian Professor who was part of the panelist also recommended a legislative road map for The Gambia. He called for constitutional review, nationwide consultation, referendum and civic awareness among other things. He talked about the need to train judges on the constitution.