Public Holidays are guided by law

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By Madi Jobarteh

The public holiday announcement by the State House is unconstitutional. The State House must realise that there is a Public Holidays Act which specifies who can declare a public holiday and which days are to be declared a public holiday.

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In the Act, the President can only declare a public holiday for days marking Eid-il-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha and Maulud Nabi. Period.

The other statutory days are New Year’s Day (Jan 1), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Independence Day (Feb 18), Feast of Assumption Day (Aug 15), and Christmas Day (Dec 25). For these days, it is the Minister who declares them as public holidays. For any changes to these days, whether to drop an existing day or include a new day as a public holiday, it needs to be gazetted.

Therefore, even though Section 76 of the Constitution confers Executive Power on the President, this section cannot however be relied upon to declare a public holiday since there is already a distinct and definite act for that purpose. So, let us tell the President and his technocrats to follow the law.

Hence the latest press release from the State House that the President has allocated two days for the observance of Tabaski and Koriteh is unconstitutional and illegal. Similarly, the Public Holidays Act has not provided any public holiday for Boxing Day.

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Therefore, let the President be advised to review the Public Holidays Act so that it is amended in line with current realities. Until then, the several declarations of public holidays in the country by both former Tinpot Dictator Yaya Jammeh and current Pres. Adama Barrow are unconstitutional and illegal.

That aside, the Public Holidays Act in itself needs urgent review. It was created in 1904 and last amended in 1965! It is utterly outdated. We are in 2021 today.

For The Gambia Our Homeland

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