Spokesman Halifa Sallah
Gambia`s Coalition Government Spokesman Halifa Sallah said Madam Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang`s appointment to the position of a Vice President is a “matter of concern to them” and added it would be “subjected to review by the President.”
Sallah addressed a press conference today following controversies generated over Madam Tambajang`s qualification for the portfolio. She is believed to be over 65 thereby barred by section 62 (1) and 70 (2) of The Gambia`s Constitution that restricted the age requirement between 30 to 65.
According to Sallah, her appointment was done in good faith ‘being a prominent member’ of the Coalition and the Chair of the platform that led to the formation of the coalition of 8 political establishments.
He said: “Essentially I have spoken to President Barrow that there are many concerns being raised. But we must also understand that in the Gambian Constitution which will have to be reformed, we do not have parliamentary oversight of cabinet appointments.
“This is a principal recommendation to be made to President Barrow to ensure that in terms of the Constitutional reforms that will be there, then we will not have been talking about this issue, because the parliament would have vetted to know the person being appointed is actually qualified to hold such posts.”
Sallah said the reason why President Barrow made it a primary decision to appoint a Vice President, is to ensure that the advisers will have somebody to work with as they “put the government machinery into operation.”
He added: “It is still a matter of concern, but people will understand that the appointment was done in good faith base on the facts that were available at the time.
And I am sure if new facts emerge that may lead to a certain review by the President of the republic.”
“So it is evident that if anybody observed the breach of the Constitution you are free to share that with the President.
“And obviously what the Constitution says is what the President has sworn to do, and that is what he will do and that is what he told me.
“So in short the issue that has been broadening in the public space, is an issue when you raise them under democratic order becomes an advice for those who manage the affairs of the state, to know exactly what to do to prevent any anomalies in administration.”
He said the qualification for the Vice President is embedded in the provision of the Presidency under section 70(2) of the Constitution.
Although there is much anxiety and curiosity of the composition of the Coalition Cabinet in entirety, the backlash generated by Madam Tambajang`s appointment has led to withholding other Cabinet appointments.
“The Cabinet formation started with the vice President and of course more names should have been mentioned but the President has been carefully advised that he should constitute a vetting committee, which will take into consideration all the Constitutional provisions regarding the qualifications, so that from henceforth all names that comes would have been vetted before coming into public domain. So that people will actually come to a decision of building greater confidence in the government,” said Sallah.
On Barrow’s arrival, he said the President will soon make his way home, but not today as he is holding his final meeting with the ECOWAS and assured that from there, he will tell when exactly he will be arriving. He said Barrow has already given a day that he will come but he cannot give it until it is affirmed.