Gambia’s Controversial Bill Still Hanging

politicsGambian Parliament has again postponed without a reason a vote on a controversial bill that aims to increase fees for registration of political parties and presidential candidates.

The National Assembly Speaker told this reporter the House was adjourned until the next sitting day as caucuses were meeting. Abdoulie Bojang did not expound on the reasons for deferring the Tuesday is to July 7th.

Spearheaded by the ruling Alliance for Patriotic and Construction (APRC), the proposed bill to be tabled before the country’s lawmakers, will cause deposit for presidential aspirants to “skyrocket through the roof with fees increasing from 10, 000 to 1,000000 dalasi. The move has prompted emotional and lively debate throughout the country and in the diaspora.

Opposition parties’ leaders and activists have been calling on the Jammeh regime to backtrack on the decision to use its majority muscle in the National Assembly to pass a bill that continues to raise concerns.

“It is up to the opposition leaders to challenge it. There are entrenched clauses in the constitution that can only be changed through a referendum,” said Minority Leader Samba Jallow.

The flagbearer of the opposition National Reconciliation Party ( NRP) challenged the relevancy of the proposed amendments  and said the constitution allows  ‘every citizen to contest election without any restrictions.’

Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP) leader Omar Amadou Jallow shares the same opinion and decries the ruling party’s “desperate attempt to attack the basis of democracy”.

“I think he (President Yahya Jammeh) has lost his popularity and he knows it.  He is creating an environment where it would be very difficult for opposition parties to participate,” he said.

Omar Amadou Jallow said President Jammeh wants 1% of the population to hold 99.9% of Gambians hostage. He accused the initiators of the bill of aiming to “institutionalize an apartheid-like system where the rich minority will be given more power over the poor majority.”

The PPP leader called on Gambians to take up the challenge and spare no effort in demanding that Parliament will not vote the bills.

The tiny West African nation continues to generate headlines over its poor human rights record and recurrent utterances of President Jammeh accused by activists of carrying out summary executions. Speculations are high on how government will reach a consensus with the opposition on the proposed bills.

Written by Abdoulie JOHN


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