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Halifa speaks on his governance plans

Apr 5, 2016, 10:02 AM

Halifa Sallah has said that for 51 years of self-rule The Gambia has never gone through a peaceful transfer of state power from one party or person to another, “which has led to the consolidation of the monarchical political culture of self-perpetuating rule”.

The PDOIS flag-bearer made this statement at a press conference held at the PDOIS political bureau in Churchill’s Town yesterday.

Mr Sallah said “a political transition is absolutely necessary” that would give rise to a government that could be scrutinised, criticised, restrained and even impeached for misappropriation of public resources, misrule, bad governance, misconduct and misrepresentation.

“Such a transitional government is only conceivable if the president does not appoint or terminate the appointment of the majority of the members of the Cabinet and is not part of a party which controls the majority of seats in parliament/National Assembly,” he said.

He pledged that if elected as president, he would directly appoint only one third of the Ministers in a 21 Member Cabinet, two thirds of the membership would be appointed based on the recommendations made by the other stakeholders.

He said that in the case of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information, the appointment would be done in consultation with the Medical and Dental Association and the Gambia Press Union.

The appointment of Vice President, he said, would be done based on the recommendation of coalition partners and a memorandum of understanding would be signed with coalition partners to give guarantees that he would not use presidential powers to remove ministers proposed by them, but would instead refer any allegation of incompetence, violation of the constitution, misconduct to the National Assembly for a vote of censure to be considered under section 75 of the constitution.

He added: “The Third Republic must usher in a transition from the absolutism of the monarchical presidency under which executive order reigns supreme over the constitution, regulations and basic fundamental rights thus reducing sovereign citizens into subjects and ensure an accelerated power of motion to consolidate a people centred government whose every action is bound by the guardsand fences of a just constitution, just institutions and good practice thus ensure that the state becomes an instrument of protection of liberty, dignity and prosperity rather than an instrument of coercion.”

In this way, he continued, the sovereign Gambian people would cease to be subjects and become the architects of our own destiny of justice, freedom, prosperity and happiness.

According to him, since the National Assembly is the main oversight institution which prevents violation of the Constitution and deter or remedy misconduct through impeachment proceedings, “PDOIS as a party - if I am elected president - has agreed to endeavour to hold no more than one-quarter plus-one of the seats in the National Assembly, so that neither the executive nor the coalition partners would be able to amend the constitution without consultation and mutual agreement”.

He said that to ensure that The Gambia consolidates a secular, democratic and sovereign Republic with a sovereign people basking under a system of government derived from the consent of the people, and driven by representatives who are elected by, accountable to and removable by the people, Mr Sallah would not hold any office in PDOIS while serving as president.

He would declare his assets before assuming the office of president and when handing over the office after serving for only one term, he would not take sides during electoral campaign and would ensure that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has all the powers and means to conduct free, fair and transparent presidential election, “after my one-term tenure”.

He said: “State media would be accessible to all political parties and civil society sectors on a weekly basis and would be obliged to disseminate divergent views and opinions from all sectors of society.”

On the issue of selecting a flag bearer for a coalition or United Front, Mr Sallah said section 47 of the Constitution makes provision for a presidential candidate to be nominated by 5000 voters with at least 200 voters being residents of each region.

Mr Sallah expressed his preparedness to participate in a primary election where each presidential candidate, being independent or a party nominee, would provide a list of five thousand nominators for his or her candidature, and other parties with candidates doing the same to enable a coalition to have a list of voters who will participate in electing one person from among the presidential candidates to beflag bearer of the coalition; and he will further subscribe to each candidate selecting a man and a woman to preside over the election in each region.

He further stated that this concrete programme for the establishment of a united front, or coalition, for the 2016 presidential election, has been approved by the party which approved his candidature, and he is hereby forwarding the programme to the party for submission to the Gambia Opposition for Electoral Reform as a proposal for consideration by all member parties.

“I am also putting it in the public space for other independent aspirants to the presidency to consider the same,” he said.

He added: “This is done in good faith in the public interest, and it is put in the public space to dismiss the misrepresentation that PDOIS is opposed to a coalition. We hope other parties and independent personalities will put their proposals in the public space so that negotiation would begin to narrow down the differences.”