National Assembly Members Who Boycotted the Bill
By Ramatoulie Jawo
The National Assembly Minority Caucus boycotted the Former President Bill 2023 on Thursday, November 2, 2023. The bill seeks to repeal and replace the Former Presidents (Office, Allowances and Other Benefits) Act.
The bill was tabled before the National Assembly members by Hon. Dawda A. Jallow, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, under a certificate of urgency. When the speaker asked the members to consider the bill under the certificate of urgency, some members voted for it, while others voted against.
When there was a division of votes, 30 members voted for it while 17 voted against. Following the announcement of the results, the members of the United Democratic Party (UDP), People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) and one independent candidate walked out of the Chambers in protest.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the walk out, Honourable Alhagie S. Darboe, the Minority Leader and the member for Brikama North, highlighted the reasons why they boycotted the bill.
Some of the reasons he highlighted include the fact that the former president will have the same salary as the sitting president, three cars and drivers, cooks, an office, and a residence. They also argued that the bill was passed urgently without proper scrutiny.
“For the former president bill, we did not want to associate ourselves with anything we feel will not be done for the best interests of the Gambians and that is why we decided not to take part because they feel we don’t have the numbers and yes, we don’t have the number, so they will use their number against us to do anything they feel like doing. We will not be a part of that.
“We will like the bill to come the normal way. We give it to the relevant committee to scrutinize and do necessary consultation report back, and we put the input of the people diligently,” he highlighted.
Hon. Suwaibou Touray, the National Assembly member for Wuli East constituency, said they are not against the bill, but it should come in the right direction for proper scrutiny because it has to do with taxpayers’ money.
Meanwhile, the members of the National People’s Party (NPP), nominated members, some independent members and members of the No To Alliance remained in the chambers to consider and pass the bill.
If the bill is passed, a former president will earn the same salary as the sitting president, have three cars and drivers, cooks, an office and a residence. He will be treated the same as a sitting president.