In what observers have called one of the “worst constitutional” gerrymandering in The Gambia’s political history, the Yahya Jammeh government will be introducing a bill in the next Parliament sitting – likely next month, that will extend the term of the current Independent Electoral Commission Chairman, Mustapha Carayol and his entire team from what is an already expired 2 term limit to what legal experts say is indefinite term in office, since the number of years is no more stipulated or alluded to.
This directive is contained in a bill titled, National Assembly sent by President Yahya Jammeh to Parliament. The bill instructs that “Section 42 of the Constitution (1997 Constitution) is amended in sub-section (4) by substituting for the words “one further term”, the words “further terms of office.” The reasoning behind this according to the regime is that “the amendment seeks to ensure that experienced members of the Commission are maintained to lend their expertise to operations of the Commission as long as long as they are able to do so.”
It could be recalled that one of the key grievances of the Opposition parties is the continuing presence of Mustapha Carayol and the current IEC team in their positions, serving terms that have long expired – hence occupying their offices unconstitutionally. With the move, Jammeh believes he would essentially render that issue a moot point. Legal experts aren’t buying it. They contend that by virtue of these office holders illegally occupying their positions, they have pretty much become law breakers and that alone should be reason to terminate their services forthwith. And they are quick to add that Jammeh’s actions in this case proves those crying foul over this matter were in fact right all along, and that is; this team is doing Jammeh’s dirty work of rigging the elections for him.
How the Opposition parties will confront this latest attempt to violate every principle of fair play by the Jammeh regime is the 64 million dollar question many are now asking. Because they emphasized that with Jammeh continuing to flaunt the rules of the election process, and the parties’ continuing refusal to make a stand by at least holding a peaceful protest to manifest their disgust to him and the whole world, they might as well already go ahead and deliver their concession speeches.
Attached you will find the bill in question. The sham called elections in The Gambia continues.