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“Any attempt by President to sack Jaiteh will be met with equal force”

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Ya Kumba Jaiteh said the power of the president to revoke her nomination expired immediately before her swearing in “as a substantive member of Parliament”.

Any attempt by President Adama Barrow to sack a nominated lawmaker Ya Kumba Jaiteh will be received with an equal force, threatened lawmaker Sanna Jawara.

Jaiteh, one of the five people nominated into the National Assembly by President Barrow has had her nominations revoked by Barrow on Monday according to a letter she reportedly received from the office of the Secretary General Ebrima O. Camara.

Camara said in the letter without an official letterhead that he was directed by the president to revoke Kumba’s nomination with “immediate effect”.

On Monday morning, after Kumba received her letter at the National Assembly in Banjul, she joined 31 of her colleagues to discuss the issue.

Though not all of them agreed to openly dismiss the actions of the president as unconstitutional, large majority of lawmakers said the president’s decision was illegal.

The lawmakers later read to journalists a joint resolution from the meeting denouncing the decision as an executive interference in their work.

The resolution was read by majority leader Kebba Barrow.

“This is an unlawful action and I think the president have to be very careful because they can be met with equally the same force,” Jawara told Kerr Fatou.

“We can react by invoking section 67 of the constitution (impeachment). We have to defend our house (National Assembly) whatever it takes. If they want to go ahead to enforce this (removal of Jaiteh), it will be met with an equal force.”

Jaiteh responds

Meanwhile, Jaiteh, a lawyer by profession, also wrote an open letter to Secretary General made available to Kerr Fatou requesting the office to be appropriately advised on her issue.

Jaiteh said the power of the president to revoke her nomination expired immediately before her swearing in “as a substantive member of Parliament”.

“The President does not have the right or authority to withdraw the nomination of nominated members of Parliament after they have been duly sworn in,” stated Jaiteh.

“In conclusion, I consider the said letter as an attempt to subvert or interfere with the membership of the legislative arm of Government. Your letter is therefore disappointing. The Gambian people expect better.”

Disagreements in the lawmaking body

Meanwhile, even within the United Democratic Party, members are divided over whether the president’s decision was legitimate or not.

While people like Sanna Jawara, Alagie Darboe and Sulayman Saho have vehemently stood against the decision, lawmakers such as Saikouba Jarju and Billay Tunkara appeared to be undecided.

Jarju told Kerr Fatou that he does not have adequate legal opinion to make his stance on the issue.

But for Jawara, difference within the UDP or other parties over the issue does not change anything.

“Just because you are UDP does not mean that UDP will interfere with how people go about representing their people. Every National Assembly member who is either elected or nominated has a conscience. And in this case, it is one’s conscience that will dictate how to go about issues,” said Jawara.

“The president has the power to nominate five National Assembly members but that is where the powers stops… We adopt the nominations and these people become lawmakers with every power and privilege elected officials have.”

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