It was on 25 July 2017 that the National Assembly amended Section 62 sub-section 1(b) of the Constitution by removing the age requirement for the qualification for election of a president. By this amendment, the appointment of the vice president under section 72 sub-section 2 was also affected consequently.
According to Section 100 sub-section 3, when the parliament amends a bill it sends it to the president to assent to it within 30 days. If the president does not wish to assent to it, he would have to send the bill back to the parliament to ask them to reconsider and give his reasons for not assenting to the bill and therefore why he requested the parliament to review their decision.
Today August 24 marks the 30th day since the amendment was done, yet the Office of the President has not issued any public statement as to whether the president has assented to the bill or he has returned it to the parliament to reconsider. The common practice in democracies is for the public to be duly informed as soon as the president assents to a bill or not. Hence it is important that the Office of the President informs Gambians what has happened to the bill amending the age requirement for president and vice president done by the National Assembly since July 25.
It must be noted that if the president assented to the bill, the Constitution further requires, under Section 100 sub-section 6 to now gazette that bill within 30 days from the day the president assented to the bill after which it becomes law. Therefore the need for the public to know if the president has assented to the bill or not is paramount so that we can also track the gazette as to when it was published.
When we know that a bill has been assented to by the president and gazetted as required, then the general public would also know that there is a new law in town. Similarly, it is important that the National Assembly also puts such information in their website as to the exact date on which they sent a bill to the president to assent to it. This will help citizens to track fundamental issues, which also goes to indicate that indeed our democratic and state institutions are performing their functions well. All of these are to ensure that the rule of law is always adhered to thus ensuring that good governance prevails in the Gambia.
I wish to therefore call on the Office of the President to issue a statement to Gambians on the state of affairs regarding the bill on the amendment of Section 62(1)(b) done on 25 July 2017 by the National Assembly.
Gambians have a right to know and the Office of the President has a duty to inform!
God Bless The Gambia