Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Gambia's Attorney General should resign as National Assembly delays bill a second time

IEC Chairman, Carayol 
Justice Minister Singhatey
Gambia's National Assembly has postponed debate on Jammeh's proposed electoral reform bill for the second time in a week because of the controversial nature of the proposals which you can read here and again here

The proposals are designed to eliminate the chance of any meaningful participation of the opposition in future elections.  The fact that the contents of the electoral reform bill were shrouded in secrecy suggests that the regime realized the harmful nature of its proposal. But as soon as details leaked, and the ensuing blow-back from opposition leaders and dissidents groups in the diaspora, the National Assembly postponed the debate until 30th June.  We are now told that the debate has been deferred to 7th July, yet again.

To understand what is at stake, one must look at the events unfolding in Burundi where president Ngurunziza tries to interpret the country's Constitution to make it possible to prolong his stay in office beyond what's allowable under law.  Unsuccessful at convincing the Burundi leader to postpone the parliamentary elections until the constitutional problems are resolved, the African Union and the rest of the international community refused to recognize the outcome of the elections which were marred by violence that threatens to plunge the country into another genocidal mayhem.

The Gambia is moving in the same direction as Burundi if Jammeh and his supporters are not careful. The electoral proposals are unacceptable to all of the major opposition parties, and vehemently opposed by dissident and exile Gambian groups in America, Europe and Senegal.

What is amazing is how the Chairman of the IEC its members continue to allow themselves to be used by Yaya Jammeh to advance his political agenda at the expense of ordinary Gambians.  Mr. Mustapha Carayol and his minions at the IEC are as culpable as Jammeh should Gambia goes by the way of Burundi.

The electoral reform proposals were conceived and crafted by the Executive and handed over to the conniving IEC to shove it  down the throats of the National Assembly, another equally useless body.  The fact that Mr. Carayol is unconstitutionally occupying the Chairmanship proves not to be a deterrence for him to continue conspiring with Jammeh to further deny Gambians the right to vote for the party of their choice by attempting to disqualify as all of the opposition parties.

The odious nature of the proposals have apparently caused some members of the National Assembly to have some second thoughts.  It is being reported that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice has also been reluctant to table a bill that she has problems with.  The tabling will now be done by the Secretary General and Minister for Presidential Affairs which is a desperate move on the part of Jammeh to circumvent his legal adviser.  It is, therefore, time for Mama Fatima Singhatey to resign from the cabinet.  If she doesn't, Jammeh will dismiss her instead.

As the veteran PPP politician, Omar Jallow, reminded us recently, the Minister of Justice is a product of a pedigree that belongs to pre-independence Gambia with an obligation to protecting the legacy of her father who was part of the Lancaster House delegation that negotiated Gambia's independence. She has a legacy, including a good name to protect, Jammeh doesn't.