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UDP’s Ya Kumba challenges President’s “revocation” decision at Supreme Court

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A landmark decision awaits Gambia’s Supreme Court. Many lawyers believe the case is an exciting one in that it is the first of it kind in the country. The case is against the Speaker, clerk of the National Assembly and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice who is the representative of the Government.

Ya Kumba Jaiteh is one of the five people nominated into the National Assembly by the President Adama Barrow.

The lawmaker whose nomination was “revoked” by President Adama Barrow, Ya Kumba Jaiteh, has filed an injunction at the Supreme Court against the decision on Wednesday.

Amie Drammeh, the principal secretary at the Supreme Court confirmed to Kerr Fatou that the filling process which started on Tuesday had been completed.

This medium has learned from sources associated with the case that the injunction was to prevent both Kumba’s sacking and also allow her to continue work until the court decide on the issue.

The intent of Kumba’s case is to declare the actions of the president as “unconstitutional”, and prevent Foday Gassama from representing himself as a member of the parliament.

The injunction also seeks to prevent both the clerk Momodou Ceesay and Speaker Mariama Denton from swearing in Foday Gassama pending the outcome of the case.

This means that Barrow’s proposed replacement will not be sworn-in until the Supreme Court decides on the issue. The Supreme Court sits on Monday, March 11, and Kumba’s case may be one of those that will come up.

About two weeks ago, Barrow sent a letter to the National Assembly through the secretary general Ebrima Camara revoking the nomination of Jaiteh.

The letter which was without a letterhead did not explain the rationale of the president’s decision nor does it explain the law he relied on to revoke Kumba’s nomination.

Gambia’s constitution has clearly explained how a lawmaker can be removed from office and also explained how someone can be nominated but experts said it is silent on how a nominated lawmaker can be removed.

Several lawyers including the Gambia Bar Association said it is illegal for the president to fire a nominated lawmaker. On the basis of separation of powers, prominent activist Madi Jobarteh calls Barrow’s actions an “impeachable offence”.

The decision was not popular in the National Assembly either. On the day Ya Kumba received her sacked letter, lawmakers did a resolution denouncing President’s move as “illegal”.

Sanna Jawara, a United Democratic Party lawmaker, said any attempt from the president to move ahead with revocation of Kumba’s nomination will be met with an equal force from the lawmaking body.

However, not all lawyers agreed the President’s decision was illegal. Lawyers such as Lamin K. Mboge are of the view that the president has the authority to fire a nominated lawmaker.

Meanwhile, on Monday President Barrow announced he is replacing Ya Kumba with Foday Kassama, a native of Brikama associated with the President’s youth movement.

Since tension started between President Barrow and his former UDP, Kumba will be the third prominent member of the party to be fired by the President from 2018 to now.

Kumba is the president of the youth female wing of the UDP, a position she was elected to in December 2018.

Barrow has manifested interest to seek second term in office but UDP is recalcitrant to give him their backing. The party’s leader Ousainou Darboe who is also the country’s vice president is widely suspected to also have presidential ambitions.

Many analysts believe this was what precipitated the tension between the president and his vice president.

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