#Article (Archive)

The kingship issue

Dec 28, 2010, 1:05 PM

We did not want to comment on what has become known as the “kingship” debate in the country. However, as the Fourth Estate, we have a responsibility, to educate the public on issues of common concern. We also feel it is our duty to enlighten our compatriots.

In fact, we have a mandate to play a watchdog role in our society, given to us by the very constitution of The Gambia, which states very clearly that the press must ensure the accountability of the government to the people of this country.

The same constitution provides for regular elections so that those who become rulers derive their power from the people. The same constitution provides for a legislature of elected members; an independent electoral commission, and so on. This constitution also requires that every citizen defends the constitution, using all legal means at his disposal.

We are expressing concern, especially that the issue was raised at the National Assembly, during the debate on the adjournment motion by our lawmakers.

We hereby refer those Assembly members to the supreme law of the country, the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, since it seems some MPs in this country do not fully know the contents of the constitution.

Going by the report in which we published the comments made by deputies at the National Assembly, it is obvious that any MP who says their people have endorsed the proposal by the chiefs to have a king, the ruler in the Gambia cannot be correct, since there was no referendum held on the issue, whether at the local or national level.

Indeed, not even a poll of public opinion was held, to our knowledge, anywhere in this country, to determine how the general public feels about the “kingship issue” in the country.

Indeed, as members of the National Assembly, they are always expected to promote the best interest of Gambian people.

What is apparent is that, in this day of 21st century, and at the dawn of the Second Republic, which is just 16 years old, it is quite incomprehensible that any member of the National Assembly would so soon want to see a monarchical system of government replace the Second Republic.

In any case, one would have expected the chiefs and their backers to campaign for greater focus on development of their districts, where the standard of living, with the road and housing, is very bad compared to the Greater Banjul area, rather than calling for something that is not possible.

Perhaps these campaigners want to be recognised to have cheap popularity, but engaging in such a campaign would never make them to be popular in this country.

In our view, the campaign by some chiefs calling for a monarchy in The Gambia is contrary to the constitution.

Another effect is that such a campaign, in this era, would only make the world see Gambians as going against the global trend, and this is not good for the country’s image in the eyes of the international community.

Our message to the chiefs and National Assembly members is a simple one: Remember that history will judge us all for what we lived for.

“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.”