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Why are the new cabinet members still not sworn in?

Madi Jobarteh is a Gambian civil society activist

It is two full working days and a weekend since Pres. Adama Barrow announced the appointment of a new vice president and several ministers yet until today Monday July 2 none of the new appointees were sworn-in. Meantime all of the former holders of those offices have vacated their offices and the new appointees have assumed their new positions. This is a clear violation of the rule of law that must not allow to perpetuate.

The Oaths Act states in Section 3 that certain holders of an office cannot assume their positions and perform the functions of that office without first taking the prescribed oath to be administered by the appropriate person. The vice president and ministers fall under the category of those kinds of holders of office hence they must take their prescribed oath of office immediately they were appointed.

The prescribed oath for the vice president and minsters are the Oath of Allegiance, Oath for the Due Execution of Office and Oath of Secrecy to be administered by the president. Section 6 of the Oaths Act states that failure to take the prescribed oath means such a person shall not enter the office or will be disqualified to hold that office. It is therefore necessary that when a person is appointed to such an office, he or she immediately takes the prescribed oath because there cannot be a vacuum in leadership and responsibility in the functions of the government.

Why therefore should Pres. Barrow appoint persons to be vice president and ministers and yet fail to immediately swear them in so that they would have the legal authority and power to act in their new portfolio? So long as these people are not sworn-on then they lack the legal authority to perform the functions of their new offices. If they do then they are acting without legal authority which is an abuse of power.

The Minister of Justice must provide the necessary and urgent advice to the president to ensure that he acts within the law. The Gambia is governed based on and according to the constitution and other laws of the country and not based on the whims and caprices of Adama Barrow. If Pres. Barrow knows that he cannot immediately swear in a particular person upon appointing that person then let him appoint someone else who could be immediately sworn-in or wait until his preferred person is available to be sworn-in.

The law is meant to be enforced and not to wait for any citizen. All citizens are subject to the law and no one is above or below the law. Hence public officers must be seen to abide by the law and not to violate it. The National Assembly must call the attention of the president to realize that his decisions and actions must always be in line with the law and nothing else.

For the Gambia Our Homeland

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