In an interview with popular Coffee Time with Peter Gomez on West Radio on Tuesday, the minister unsurprisingly came to the defence of his boss, saying it’s not true that the Gambian leader had a hand in the rejection of the bill.
“The president has not interfered with the process. As a government we set up the Constitutional Review Commission, we took the bill to the National Assembly; the president forwarded it to the National Assembly,” Sillah said.
He argued further: “We followed due process; we made sure the document was forwarded to the National Assembly on time, they had this document three months before it was finally discussed on the floor and when they did that, we of course had no control over the National Assembly.
“How many bills have we taken to the National Assembly and they were either returned or rejected, many of them,” he stressed.
The Information minister added President Barrow was looking forward to seeing a new constitution.
“Even the President when he went to the National Assembly he mentioned that the country was looking forward to a referendum on the National Assembly.
“We were preparing, the Attorney General’s Chambers even prepared a draft election bill that was supposed to be discussed and out of that was also to prepare mechanisms for the elections.
“The Ministry of Finance has also prepared specifically an agenda to fund the referendum. So as a government we followed everything.”
Despite all the claims the Information Minister highlighted which were expected, it is the general belief that President Barrow and his cabinet were not happy that the Draft counted his current term which would have barred him from contesting the 2026 general elections should he win the 2021 elections.
It is also an open secret that none of the executive members had come out to publicly defend the Draft while it was at the Parliament.
And to further question the president’s genuine support for the bill, his Justice Minister Dawda Jallow who ironically tabled the Draft made no significant effort to sway the lawmakers to pass the bill when they offered him the opportunity to do so.
Many Gambians are of the view that former Justice Minister Abucarr Tambedou would have defended the Draft to the letter and convinced the NAMs unlike his successor.