Political parties are instruments of leadership. If they are fit for purpose their every statement and action must be guided by clarity and sincerity. This is precisely the reason why PDOIS refused to make any comment when it received news from state house that Coalition 2016 members have extended the term of the president for five years. Instead we wrote the following letter to Madam Fatoumatta Tambajang for further clarification:
2nd October, 2019
Dear Honourable Jallow Tambajang,
SUBJECT: CLARIFICATION OF UTTERANCES ON PURPORTED AMENDMENT OF COALITION 2016 AGREEMENT
The media houses have been approaching PDOIS for explanation whether the text of an amendment to the 17th October 2016 Coalition agreement had been agreed upon and signed by coalition partners. We are not aware of the crafting and signing of any text purporting to be an amendment to the original text signed by Coalition partners and are therefore finding it difficult to give accurate information to the media, on the subject matter .
It should therefore be highly appreciated if you would clarify whether any document purporting to be an amended version of the coalition agreement has been signed. If such a document exists please forward it to us before Monday, 7 October 2019, when we intend to issue a Press Release on the matter.
While anticipating your maximum cooperation
Yours In the Service of the people
It is prudent to report that we have not received any clarification on this matter from Madam Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang. PDOIS has made it very clear that the Coalition 2016 Agreement was a tactical instrument aimed at implementing the strategic objective of effecting regime change in 2016.
The strategic objective was to put an end to self-perpetuating rule by the voluntary acceptance of the coalition sponsored candidate to serve a three year term and preside over a free and fair election in which he/she would not participate or give support to any candidate. In our view, President Barrow, like all other contestants during the Coalition 2016 Convention, knew very well that the President of the Republic of The Gambia has a five year mandate. The act of resigning from one’s party and accepting a three year mandate was dictated by necessity to form a coalition.
Contextually, at the time of establishing Coalition 2016 the members of Coalition 2016 could make or break a candidate by giving or withholding their support for a candidate.
On the other hand, once a person becomes president he/she assumes powers that Coalition members cannot withhold from him/her. Those are executive powers guaranteed by the Constitution and defended by the security apparatus of the state. Hence President Barrow has the absolute power to decide whether to serve a three year or five year term.
Section 63 of the Constitution provides for a five year term while section 65 of the Constitution provides for resignation before the end of the five year term. Once he assumed office no Coalition agreement could force him to serve a three year or five year term. Hence the only role the Coalition members could play is to ask him to honour the Coalition agreement. Should he refuse to do so it is mandatory for him to abide by the five year limit. It becomes futile for any group to announce that they are giving him a term that is already provided by the Constitution. We therefore hope that the statement made by the Vice President on behalf of the President, that he has long decided, along with his cabinet to serve a five year term since his first cabinet meeting, confirms the current position of the president.
PDOIS will now rely on this position to prepare its tactics and strategies for the next electoral cycle. In making such a decision, PDOIS is guided by its Congress Resolutions and the realisation that there are two powers that could effect change – the power of the people and the power of the security forces. Both powers must be governed by law in order to be restrained.
Democracy calls for the power of the people to be restrained by electoral processes to effect democratic change, as long as a government respects constitutional safeguards for conducting elections. On the other hand, it calls for the power of the security forces to be restrained by civilian control of a government deriving its authority from the will of the people.
If these two restraints are removed mob rule or military rule must be the order of the day. Gambians should now take their stand on what role they are to play in shaping The Gambia they want. All political parties should put their way forward before the people to enable the people to decide how to carve the future they want for themselves, their children and their children’s children. This is how matters stand.