By Lamin Sanyang
Honourable Halifa Sallah, Secretary General of PDOIS and National Assembly Member for Serrekunda Constituency has called for constitutional amendments to put an end to self perpetuating rule in The Gambia.
Speaking to journalist at the party’s bureau this afternoon, Sallah called on the country’s politicians to put aside ethnic, partisan and religious politics in the interest of nation building.
The outspoken politician has explained the different phases that the country has undergone to remove dictatorship ranging from the formation of the Coalition, political impasse and President Barrow’s assuming of authority to govern and the mechanism to contest the National Assembly Elections. He said the fundamental question that rise is the interpretation of the results and the composition of the National Assembly. He emphasized that the relation between the executive and legislature is of paramount importance.
“The fundamental objective of the Coalition has been to effect constitutional reforms to humble the executive which President Barrow agreed,” Halifa Sallah said.
Sallah went further to say that the first stage of humbling the executive should start with President Barrow adhering to a 3 years term as agreed by the coalition stakeholders which he said will set precedence to term limit whereas no leader in the future will be able to abrogate it. He said however, there is no constitutional provision to serve three years in office but was an agreement between coalition stakeholders that felt it necessary at the time. He added that the president as it stands has a 5 years term in accordance with the Constitution.
“Since the objective was to put an end to self perpetuating rule, we agreed to facilitate constitutional amendments so that we will be able to have term limits for the president,” he said.
He also talked about the agreement of security of tenure for the Independent Electoral Commission to avoid what was happening in the past empowering the president to appoint members of the election commission. He also said the same thing about the judiciary. He further mentioned the security of tenure of National Assembly Members to avoid what was happening in the past empowering a party leader to dismissed a NAM from the party which also makes the NAM lose their seat in the National Assembly.
“How we prevent these abuses is through constitutional amendments,” Sallah pointed out.
The PDOIS Secretary General made mentioned the vulnerability of Chiefs and village heads. He called for the revaluation of the local government structures to ensure that the decentralization of powers becomes a reality. He reiterated the called for chiefs and village heads to be elected by the people so that they will be answerable to their people rather than selected and subjected to the executive.
Meanwhile, Sallah talked about key legislative packages including the empowering of women and urging the inter-party discussions to ensure the right amendments.