Gambia: Draft Constitution Proposes Two Term Limit And Absolute Majority

Serekunda Market, Gambia

The Constitutional Review Commission has shared the Constitution it has drafted with the public to get their feedback before the final draft is done and submitted, together with a report, to the President next month.

The draft Constitution proposes that a candidate is declared elected as president if he or she polls more than half the votes cast. In short, under the proposed Constitution, no one can become President by winning less than half the votes cast. This is called the absolute majority principle.

Paragraph (1) of Clause 95 states,

"The Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission shall declare a candidate elected as President if the candidate has received more than half of all the votes validly cast in the election."

If no one has more than half the votes cast, there will be a second round of voting contested by the two who have polled the highest number of votes, and the winner will be declared elected.

Paragraph (2) of Clause 95 stipulates:

"If, on the first election, no candidate is elected, the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission shall hold a fresh election within fourteen days of the date of declaration of the results of the first election."

The draft Constitution also proposes the restriction of the term limit of an elected president to two terms and nothing more. It stipulates in clause 100 paragraph (2) that,

"No person shall hold office as President for more than two terms of five years each, whether or not the terms are consecutive."

This means that a person may serve as president for a period of up to ten years if re-elected while in office, but he will never ever be entitled to become president again. If he or she is not re-elected he or she would be allowed to serve for only one five year term and no more.

These two provisions will go a long way to curb the incumbency and self-perpetuating rule.

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