CRC: President’s nomination powers generate debate at Assembly

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Legislators are of different opinions on whether the powers of president to nominate five National Assembly members should be in the new constitution.

However, majority of the lawmakers during a consultation with the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) on Tuesday wanted the new constitution to deter the president from nominating the five parliamentarians.

Lawmakers also voiced the need to have absolute autonomy and independence in order to effectively execute their function without fear or favour.

Many lawmakers during the meeting also suggested the three month transition handing over period of the presidency to be reduced. The lawmakers also had divided opinions with some suggesting that the education requirement for presidency be pegged at Bachelor’s degree.

“In order to have total independence of the National Assembly, the new constitution should deter the president from nominating the five parliamentarians,” said Suwaidou Touray, the NAM for Wulli East. “There should be a committee that should be responsible for nominating.”

 The NAM for Banjul North, Ousman Sillah, said the National Assembly should have complete autonomy. “In order to safeguard the independence of the National Assembly, the executive should not be given any power or role in terms of nominating or removing parliamentarians,” he argued, saying that this should be jealously guided and that professionals’ associations and the marginalised groups should be nominated by an independent committee.

He opined that the new constitution should also empower the NAM’s to approve the appointment of the IGP, Board Members, and IEC Chairman, adding that the president should nominate cabinet ministers but their appointment should be approved by the NAM’s.

The National Assembly Member of Jimara, Alhagie Sowe, suggested that there should be a provision in the new constitution that will enable the president to appear before legislators every quarter to respond to questions. He added that district chiefs should be elected instead.

Billay G. Tunkara of Kantora Constituency and Foday Gassama, nominated member, both said the president should have the power to nominate the five parliamentarians.

Speaking earlier, Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, reminded the lawmakers that the CRC is mandated to both review the 1997 Constitution and write a new constitution, adding that one of their requirements is to seek the opinions of Gambians as to what they aim to be included in the new constitution.

“Constitutional development is a national issue, therefore, everyone needs to know what we are doing,” he said. “We have developed a strategic document that will be able to guide us in our work and also we created an issue document for constitutional development. We’ve received lots of submission including that of the NAM’s.” 

Speaker Mariam Jack-Denton described the forum as timely, adding that the importance of drafting a new constitution cannot be over emphasised.

Author: Momodou Jawo