In his new year address, President Barrow puts the Coalition partners aside and took full responsibility for putting aside the promise he made to his colleagues before participating in the 20th October 2016 Coalition Convention that he would serve a three year term when voted for by the delegates to the convention.
According to the Coalition partners, no party or personality had the capacity to win an election on its own due to the absence of level ground for electoral contest. Hence the Coalition had the objective of levelling the ground for multi-party contest in subsequent elections. They laid conditions for the Coalition presidential candidate to shorten the term of five years to three and to further make commitments for elections to be held 1) after resignation in three years, 2) without his or her participation as a candidate 3) without supporting any presidential candidate.
After resigning from his party and standing as an independent candidate, President Barrow did win the election. However, after the second year of his term, information started leaking that he did not intend to resign after serving a term of three years. Manoeuvring started, leading to the convening of a Coalition meeting to review the three year term, after President Barrow had revealed at a political rally that no one can stop him from serving a five year term.
The Coalition Agreement did not bring about any decision that was signed by the Coalition members in the form of an agreement. As the pressure mounted President Barrow sent the Vice President to the National Assembly to declare the position of his cabinet for him to serve a five year term. Now he has made it very clear that he is fully responsible for his decision to serve a five year term. These are his very words extracted from his New Year message:
“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.”
“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.”