Gambia: 17 May 2020 | The two-term limit of the president CANNOT start in 2017 as proposed in the draft constitution - Barrister Lamin J Darbo
Lamin J Darbo, a leading Gambian constitutional lawyer has argued that it is discriminatory to retrospectively apply the two terms limit of the presidency from 2017 as provisioned in the final draft constitution of The Gambia.
Mr Darbo was speaking as a panelist at the Paradise TV National Discussion on the final draft constitution of The Gambia on Saturday night. Mr Darbo is of the view that the two terms limit clock should begin ticking from 2021 as far as the incumbent president Barrow is concerned, IF he (Barrow) were to win the presidential elections in 2021 in the interest of rule of law, as the constitution is a legal document and must be respected.
“Regardless of how you view somebody, the rule of law is fundamental and it’s important that when the draft constitution is adopted, the two terms limit starts in 2021 and not in 2017” Dr Lamin J. Darbo argued.
However, other panelists hold the view that given the historical context of the country in terms of self perpetuating rule that blighted the country since independence, the transitional government being in place for five years, the consultative nature of the drafting of the constitution, the two five year term clock should retrospectively begin in 2017 when the draft is passed which means incumbent President Adama Barrow will be unable to run for the office of the President past 2021 presidential elections.
“The Draft Constitution is an inclusive document. The Constitution is reflective of the majority of Gambians views and aspirations as canvassed during public consultations. Generally, the document is a progressive Constitution“ added Fatou Jawo, who is deputy speaker of the National Youth Parliament.
It could be recalled that the Gambian cabinet has recently expressed concern about the apparent discrimination of incumbent president Barrow in the draft constitution and urged CRC to remove Section 5 of Schedule 3a from the draft which effectively bars Barrow from contesting the presidency in 2026 due the proposed retrospective start date of the mandatory two terms limit, if he were to win the office of the president in the 2021 polls.
It remains to be seen if the draft constitution which requires seventy-five percent of lawmakers vote will pass in the National Assembly before a vote in the referendum.