The Fatu Network has got credible information that the government of Dictator Yahya Jammeh has withdrawn the controversial Bill that it sent to the National Assembly seeking to amend Section 42 Subsection (4) of the Constitution of The Gambia dealing with the tenure of office of members of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
In the proposed Bill, the government sought to amend the 1997 constitution to “allow for the appointment of members of the IEC beyond two terms of office and for connected matters.”
Further, the proposed Bill was to amend Section 42 subsection (4) by substituting for the words “one further term” with “further terms of office.”
The reason cited by the government was to ensure that “experienced members of the IEC are maintained to lend their expertise to the younger generations of the commission as long as they are able to do so.”
The proposed amendment Bill was set for discussion in the ongoing sitting of the National Assembly but all of a sudden when members resumed from their short break, the amendment Bill was withdrawn from the agenda.
Speaking to the Fatu Network, a credible source said the move by the government to withdraw the proposed amendment Bill might have been triggered by a chorus of condemnations and opposition to the amendment.
Indeed opposition parties in The Gambia have been openly questioning the credibility and impartiality of the Chairman and other senior members of the IEC accusing them of doing the bidding of the ruling party.
Some seven months ago, a combined group of opposition parties had written a 13 point document to the IEC demanding a series of changes to the electoral system to ensure credible, impartial, free and fair electoral processes.
Strangely however, the IEC has neither acknowledged the letter from the combined opposition parties nor has it acted on any of the concerns raised by the opposition. This and many other belligerent postures from the IEC towards the opposition prompted the political parties to openly issue threats of defying the electoral commission as well as to institute legal action against it.
Now that the controversial Bill has been removed from the agenda of the current session of National Assembly for now, many people are wondering what might have triggered it. Some believe that the dictator is probably afraid of the new defiant mood among The Gambian populace by he is trying to avoid anything that could galvanize people to pour into the streets to vent their anger.
But true to its traits, it may be also that the dictatorship is buying time and could return the Bill back to the Assembly.
Whatever the case, the Fatu Network will continue to monitor this story.