BY DAWDA BALDEH
Former Interior Minister, presidential adviser and leader of the Gambia Moral Congress (GMC) Mai Ahmad Fatty who joined other political leaders to show his dissatisfaction over the rejection of the draft of constitution has described the day the draft bill was rejected as the day of “The Great Betrayal”.
Addressing a press conference at the GMC National Secretariat on Thursday, Mai contended that a ‘forensic evaluation’ of the rejection of the draft constitution promulgation bill would show that the desire of the PPP and NRP not to endanger President Barrow’s political ambitions, APRC’s quest to protect its legacy and the choice by the justice ministry of a wrong section of the law to push the Bill all precipitated its failure.
Mai said the rejection of The so-called Bill has nothing to do with national interest but instead they rejected it to favor the President in power. “Their main objections dealt with three concerns: the draft provision on term limits that subjects the president’s current term to be computed as part thereof. The substantial reduction of the powers of executive in favor of parliament and draft provision that seek to consolidate judicial independence through enhanced remuneration package, he said.
“September 22nd 2020 will go down in the history of The Gambia as a day of ‘The Great Betrayal’. This was the day when a group of politicians, acting as known proxies for and on behalf of an ill-guided leadership, attempted to kill our collective national aspiration for a fresh start,” he rued.
To Mai, the jettisoning of the Bill undermines the hopes and aspirations of the majority of Gambians, who in 2016, voted against Jammeh to end the continuation of the state of affairs at the time. This, he added, is an indication that the electorate voted for systemic change that would embrace the values of reform programs, strengthening of government institutions and enthronement of the principles of inclusive democracy.
Mai said the role of the Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Justice is most shocking. “The ministry relied on the wrong provision of the Constitution they knew would automatically lead to the rejection of the Bill. This is the surest evidence of the government defeating its own Bill in parliament. They presented the Bill pursuant to Section 226 of the Constitution, a provision that has nothing to do with presenting a draft Constitution Promulgation Bill before the National Assembly. It is not the section for a referendum on a new constitution”, he said.
“December 2016 we promised Gambians one major principle. Gambians voted for us in exchange for this promise. They did not vote for the Coalition; instead they voted against Yahya Jammeh and the APRC; they voted against the perpetuation of the consolidation of the status quo of the time”. 2016 was a clear mandate for fundamental change in governance architecture purely on the basis of the Coalition’s promised for system change.
Mai said “GMC hold the government directly responsible for the rejection of the Bill”. As a party, we have put a process in place that would entail the input of others. So I will not make unilateral declaration to avert undermining that process. ” I can assured you, however, that we shall defend the national interests, ensuring that the draft constitution continues to live”, it is not dead and will never die added Mai.
“The 23 MPs who contributed to the reception of the Bill has manifested nothing but their own personal interest and supporting the president but not representing the national interest”, he noted. He called on Gambians and friends of the country to support the country’s democratization process which, he lamented, has been derailed.
“We did not end a system of brutal dictatorship in lieu of a benevolent dictatorship. The priority of The Gambia today is the reform and strengthening of institutions of State, reform of the governance architecture and building of a strong economy for inclusive prosperity. These priorities have been put at the back-burner. Self-perpetuation and development projects, intended to hoodwink the public so as to secure the sole goal of perpetuation, are on course,” explained Mai.
The Opposition leader said; ” we hold the government directly responsible for the rejection of The so-called Bill. We conclude that there was no sincerity on the part of the Government with regards to the entire reform program”. We assert that the reform mandate upon which the Coalition emerged victorious at the polls in December 2016 has been torpedoed, and in it’s place the rejected agenda of the consolidation of the status quo ante has been granted new accelerated engines. This is the “Great Betrayal” that will history will talk about for eternity he concluded.