Saturday, February 4, 2023

VACANCY IN THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT: WHAT NEXT?

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The untimely death of the Vice President of the Republic of The Gambia has raised many questions that the Constitution of the Republic has to answer. The nation is mourning and today the accomplished teacher and state administrator, who is remembered by his students as one who has contributed immensely to their development and who is seen by his colleagues in managing the administrative life of country as honest and straightforward, would be laid to rest.

The post he occupied has become vacant according to section 70 subsection (5) of the Constitution, which reads:

“The office of Vice-President shall become vacant:

(a)   on the termination of his appointment by the President;

(b)   on  the  Vice-President  assuming  the  office  of  President  for  the  unexpired  term  of  his predecessor;

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(c)   on the Vice-President’s death or resignation;

(d)   on his or her ceasing to hold office under the provisions of section 66 or 67.”

Hence section 70 subsection (5) paragraph (c) does render the office of Vice President vacant. What next?

Section 70 subsection (6) indicates that the President must appoint a Vice President after the vacancy, but does not give any duration. It reads:

“Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of Vice-President in the circumstances mentioned in paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of subsection (5), the President shall, appoint as Vice-President a person qualified to be appointed to that office.”

Hence the president of the republic will have to be looking for a qualified person to assume office. Of course section 76 gives executive power to the president. It reads:

“The executive power of The Gambia is vested in the President and, subject to this Constitution, shall be exercised by him or her directly or through the Vice-President, Minister or officers responsible to him or her.”

Thus executive power resides in the President and the Vice President and Ministers are exercising such powers on his or her behalf. In deciding the appropriate time for a vacant post, one is anticipating that priority will be given to the laying of the Vice President under a climate of sensitivity to the loss and serenity before eyes are turned to vacancies and how to fill them. It is anticipated that the whole nation will be united. It is reminding ourselves that for The Gambia our Homeland and its destiny we will have to remain united as one Gambia, one Nation and One People to serve nation and people forever and forever more. May the legacy he lives behind continue to inspire all to work for the common good!

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