5 March 2018

Gambia: Choice By Tradition or By the People?

analysis

Section 1 subsection (2) of the Constitution states:

"The Sovereignty of The Gambia resides in the people of The Gambia from whom all organs of government derive their authority and in whose name and for whose welfare and prosperity the power of government are to be exercised in accordance with this constitution."

Being sovereign means individually the people own themselves and collectively they own the country. It also means members of the executive are servants of the people, trustees who use our resources to ensure our "welfare and prosperity". Furthermore, those wielding power should derive "their authority" from the people, according to section 1 of the Constitution.

It goes without saying that any exercise of authority by the people must start at the lowest level, at the village or community level. If the people cannot decide who their Alkalo (village head) should be, then talking about empowering the people would be a mere academic exercise.

President Barrow has made it a priority in his manifesto as an independent presidential candidate to "empower citizens to defend their sovereignty and to have control over public authority as equal stakeholders."

In the Kiang Nema alkaloship crisis, an extended family maintains that the next Alkalo should come from their family because they have held that position for seventy years whereas all others have selected someone outside this family to become the Alkalo and have made their choice known to the Governor through the Chief. The Executive has to decide whether to accept the will of the people or impose its will on them by supporting the choice by tradition. Foroyaa is watching.

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