13 February 2017

Gambia: Govt to Review Election Amendment Act

Halifa Sallah, the spokesperson of the coalition government, has told the media at a press conference that President Adama Barrow desires to begin with the process of electoral reform before the National Assembly election with all the election stakeholders, including the political parties.

He added that reform and amendment will be effected on the Election Amendment Act of 20 July 2015, which under section 43 increased the deposit for Presidential aspirants from D10,000 to D500,000; National Assembly aspirants from D5,000 to D50,000; Mayors from D2,500 to D50,000; and for the councillors from D1,200 to D10, 000.

He said the president desires to begin electoral reform before the National Assembly election, as he had instructed that the consultation begins with the political parties, the inter-party committee, and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

"Such draconian provisions will ultimately be subjected to review by all stakeholders, and a bill will be prepared to be submitted to the National Assembly for enactment," he said.

The government is now working very hard to put the institutions to work so that the vacuum that has been created by the impasse will be overcomed, and all those who contributed to the national development will be able to play their part, he added.

On appointment of the remaining seven ministers, Mr Sallah said the transition has phases, and the most anticipated by most people is the completion of the appointment of the Cabinet ministers.

He said the first phase of the appointments dealt with the fundamental basis of forming a coalition which arose as a collaboration of the political parties and one independent political aspirant, which has required the president to consider the nomination from those parties and stakeholders.

He said the second phase deals with the ministries that are left to be filled, which include the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Ministry for Basic and Secondary Education and Ministry of Transportation, Works and Infrastructure.

According to the government spokesperson, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy are separated under the current budget, but it is the desire of the President to put them together.

He said the President has been making consultations and would have caused the swearing-in of these ministers by this week.

The press conference was held to ensure transparency in the vetting process, which the President is engaged in.

As of now, he has come to almost a conclusion regarding the persons to be appointed for the Ministry of Information, Communication and Infrastructure, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and Ministry of Transport, Works, Infrastructure.

Mr Sallah, who is said to be the coordinator of the Think-Tank Committee of the government, emphasised that the President is still working on the other ministries that are not mentioned among the stated three.

He said section 72 of the Constitution instructs that he entrusts the responsibility of ministries to persons with requisite professional qualifications and experience.

"So many pieces of advice are coming from different quarters, and people are sending their curriculum vitae (CVs)."

It was also important for people to understand that under section 76 of the Constitution, the executive power is vested in the President to make such appointments, continued Sallah.

He said ministers are the advisers of the president, and they are collectively responsible for the advice they give to the President, as well as responsible for that advice as far as the National Assembly is concerned.

The President also has the desire to appoint people as special advisers to him, and according to Sallah, President Barrow is also working on that mandate so that he would be able to capture the whole team of experience and professionalism that is required to run a government in an efficient and effective manner.

However, he emphasised that a strong government would need a vibrant National Assembly to provide checks and balances.

He said also that every successful government needs good advisers for better functioning.

Gambia

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