President Barrow has said he would rather give the Constitution precedence over the Coalition Agreement.
“I swore twice by the Holy Qur’an, in Dakar and in The Gambia, to defend and act according to the national Constitution. Under these circumstances, I cannot accord the Coalition Agreement preference over the Constitution,” he remarked in his New Year address to the Nation yesterday.
He explained himself as follows:
“After I took up office, the gravity of the institutional failures, abuse of office, human rights and bad governance became more apparent. Thus, the need to weigh fulfilling the Coalition Agreement and acting on the Constitution I swore to uphold. The confidence and mandate entrusted upon me have subsequently guided my decision to respect the voice and will of the people, by maintaining to serve the full Constitutional mandate of five years.
“It is in the same spirit that both the Legislative and Local Government Elections occurred.
“The circumstances now dictate that national development and the national interest take precedence over partisan or sectional interests.”
While admitting that resigning is not unconstitutional he considered it improper to do so.
“While tendering my resignation is not unconstitutional, as some people argue, it is irresponsible and imprudent to do so if it is not prompted and justified by principles linked to statehood and the people. To resign after three years in office implies betraying the people, multitudes of whom continue to pledge support for my Government and our development agenda,” he said.
He continued: “I have judiciously counselled myself to bow to the will of the people, and I refuse to yield to the sentiments and ambitions of a minority group. For this reason, my decision is to complete the five-year mandate stipulated in the Constitution for a sitting President. I am not ill disposed in any way to warrant my resignation as President.
In consequence, the next Presidential Election will be held according to schedule in 2021. For this purpose, the electoral reform process is in progress to ensure that all national elections are free and fair.”
The President also dealt with the security situation. He said:
“The greatest threat to the nation is disorder and instability. Lawlessness will undermine the peace and tranquillity we now enjoy.
While all citizens should remain vigilant, the security services have to be alert and well-disposed to maintain law and order, defend our sovereignty and secure our territorial integrity.”