Wednesday, March 22

UDP slams AG’s political attack on Darboe

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UDP will not respond to the comments of the political flunkies of President Barrow who instead of attending to business of the people they are paid to do are constantly trafficking in bombast and demagoguery. The fact that they do not understand their constitutional mandates and responsibilities under the laws of The Gambia is due to the incompetence of the Principal Legal Adviser of the Government.

Nonetheless, the personal attacks on Lawyer Darboe by the Attorney General is unprecedented in the annals of the Gambia’s political discourse and require a response: Not even in the darkest days of the Jammeh dictatorship has, an Attorney General entered the political arena in such a disgraceful manner. Out of the twelve or so Attorney Generals that served under dictator Jammeh none has ever issued such a ridiculous statement.

In a bid to rationalise and justify the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry at this material time, Mr. Jallow exposed his shallow comprehension of the 1997 Constitution and principle of separation of powers. Mr. Jallow in his immature statement referred to another bogus Commission of Inquiry set up by former President Jammeh to investigate Legal Practitioners and Businesspeople for tax compliance. Jammeh’s real target was Lawyer Darboe, one of greatest members of the legal fraternity of the Gambia.

Dawda Jallow’s reference to dictator Jammeh’s malicious tactics against his political rivals betrays his invidious motives in issuing his statement. However, Mr. Jallow failed to mention that dictator Jammeh used a similar witch-hunt Commission of Inquiry against former Mayor Abdoulie Conteh and eventually hounded the elected Mayor of KMC out of office. Gambians have seen this political subterfuge before.

The Attorney General must at all times speak to the law and not to make trite citations of constitutional provisions in a time of transitions away from a political dispensation where the law and state institutions were weaponised by dictator Jammeh to victimise his political opponents, the media and human rights defenders reveal the ill-intentions of AG Jallow.

Consequently, one can surmise that since his appointment as Attorney General, Mr. Jallow has offered President Barrow incompetent legal advice sourced from dictator Jammeh’s governance playbook and the discredited 1997 Constitution-a handmaiden of dictatorship if ever there was one.

The most spectacular display of Mr. Jallow’s incompetence was seen during the debates for ‘New Constitution’ on the floor of the National Assembly in 2020. Since then AG Jallow has ground to halt the implementation of the TRRC Recommendations. Therefore, it is fair to say that as Attorney General, Mr. Jallow is responsible for the stalling transitional Justice agenda of the nation, and offering injudicious advice to hapless president jumping from one corruption to the next

It is widely known that President Barrow has no Government experience before becoming president in 2017. Thus, the President’s lack of appreciation of the legal nuances about how a democratic government under the rule of law actually operates was understandable at the start of his tenure because seasoned professionals surrounded him. Unfortunately, that changed in 2020 when Attorney General A.M. Tambadou resigned before the new draft constitution was presented to the National Assembly.

UDP believes that it is for very good reasons that the only Cabinet position that requires professional qualifications and five years standing at the Bar is the position of Attorney General. And that is to guide the government of day on the rule of law and good governance principles.The chief legal adviser of the Gambia Government should not be an active participant in partisan politics. The chief law officer of the state must not be engaged in political brinkmanship, instead he should focus on advising and facilitating on the enactment on just and better laws to promote transparency and accountability in larger freedom.

In a democratic society, the law determines the accountability mechanisms and channels and in the case of Local Government Authorities, there are both legislative and executive scrutiny by the National Assembly and the National Audit Office respectively. But as noted above the laws under dictator Jammeh were designed to defeat proper accountability, notwithstanding, the 1997 Constitution of the Gambia provides a robust accountability framework for local government authorities:

Section 192 (1) of the constitution provides that ‘Local government administration in The Government Gambia shall be based on a system of democratically elected councils with a high degree of local autonomy’’. And Section 192 (3) F. ‘’the management, control and oversight of the authority’s finances and the audit of its accounts by the Auditor-General;’’

Therefore setting up a commission of inquiry for democratically elected local leaders on the eve of elections is not only suspect politically but totally unnecessary because the electorate will render their verdict of the stewardship of the elected leaders.

Since 2019 the Gambia has been slipping down deeper in corruption rankings and the Transparency International Corruption Index ranks the Gambia at 110/180 as less corrupt than only 70 countries out 180 countries considered, and the Gambia scored 34/100 in its 2022 ranking.

The Barrow government has made no efforts to reduce corruption, which remains a serious problem. Allegations of fraud and corruption by officials at all levels of government are routinely unearthed by the reports of the National Audit Office and investigative journalists, and both Office of the President and State owned Enterprises face allegations of improperly funneling money to private citizens. The Banjul Road Project, Semlex National Identity Project, $35 Million Fatoumatta Bah Barrow Foundation, Covid 19 Funds and Securiport Affair  to mention a few.

From the foregoing it is clear what the AG Jallow needs to do urgently for the Gambians is to thoroughly investigate all these allegations of corruption and diligently prosecute all cases of wrongdoing instead of engaging in petty partisan political squabbles to flatter the ego of President Adama Barrow. NPP’s and President Barrow’s deranged obsession with the person of Lawyer Darboe and the UDP must be called out for it is a vindictive witch hunt.

UDP believes that our nation’s recent history of dictatorship and grand corruption led by dictator Jammeh  as revealed by the TRRC and Janneh Commission urgently needs accountability as the only effective remedy against impunity.

President Barrow’s appointments of prominent enablers and acolytes of dictator Jammeh to high offices of state is considered by several discerning Gambians as the root cause of impunity and lawlessness in Gambian society. Accountability in this context refers to the responsibility for individual and collective action and inaction whereby the government and the governed render account of their stewardship and followership respectively.

Finally, UDP believes that a socio-political system in which there is no answerability for past crimes, corruption and malfeasance is a dysfunctional system and will be unable to sustain the rule of law, good governance and true practice of democracy.


No. 1 Alpha Tafsir Street

Banjul, the Gambia