By Aramatta Jatta
Hon Halifa Sillah, NAM for Serekunda has called on the National Assembly to Summon the Vice President Dr.Isatou Touray to come and answer why the motion for an extension of the State of Public Emergency for 45days with effect from Wednesday 1st July 2020 as per the order paper of 30th June 2020 was withdrawn.
He said, the Vice President should answer if a State of public emergency has been declared since the National Assembly commence session and if so when was it declared and under what authority and what emergency powers regulations are currently in force and under what authority.
He made this statement as the Deputy Speaker grants his application of leave to issue a statement on a matter of national interest understanding order 51 (3)b and C. Which states that a member may seek leave of the Speaker to make oral statement to the Assembly on matter which fulfils the criteria.
Section 34 of the Constitution empowers the President to declare a State of Public Emergency It reads: “The President may, at any time, by proclamation published in the Gazette, declare that- (a) a State of Public Emergency exists in the whole or any part of The Gambia;
(b) A situation exists which, if it is allowed to continue, may lead to a State of Public Emergency. It goes without saying, such declaration must have expiration date. Subsection 2 indicates the expiration period of a declaration of Public Emergency.
It reads: “A declaration made under this section shall lapse at the expiration of a period of seven days, or if the National Assembly is not then in session twenty-one days, beginning on the day on which the Proclamation is published in the Gazette.
Unless, before the expiration of that period, it has been approved by a resolution of the National Assembly supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members thereof.
In short, any declaration by the President would expire within 7 days if the National Assembly is in Session and 21 days if the National Assembly is not in Session.
The NAM for Serekunda questioned how the declaration is extended beyond seven days, if the Assembly is in Session or beyond 21 days, if the Assembly is not in Session?
He emphasised that only the National Assembly is given the power by the Constitution to extend a State of Emergency so that it would not expire within seven days and if the National Assembly is in Session or within 21 days if the National Assembly is not in Session.
Hon. Sallah said answers to this questions would provide sufficient evidence for the National Assembly to determine whether the executive is acting in line with the letter and spirit of the Constitution it has taken oath to respect, uphold and enforce or not.