5 October 2017

Gambia: The Chieftaincy Dilemma

Chiefs are heads of district tribunals. They have judicial powers. This is why the drafters of the 1997 Constitution provided for the Elections of Chiefs by the people and gave them a tenure of office that would last until they reach 70 years. In this way, they would not have been subjected to appointment and removal by the Executive.

The Jammeh administration amended the Constitution and introduced the appointment and removal of Chiefs by the President.

One would have thought that a change of administration would have led to the restoration of the power of the people to elect their own Chiefs .What appears to be the trend is to maintain the powers of the President to remove and appoint Chiefs. If this continues many people would start to lobby for any vacant post of Chief. This leads to the politicisation of the office of Chief which retains the status quo. Is this the decision of the current administration? The future will tell.

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