A Political Promise in a Democracy is the Least Binding Form of Human Commitment…
By Capt. Ebou Jallo
16 June, 2019
In a democracy, voters decide on a candidate based on his or her values, visions and integrity and vote for the person they can trust to make good decisions. Politicians cannot make legally enforceable contracts with a class of voters or other interested political parties several reasons:
1.The ability of President Barrow to perform governmental acts is not his personal right but a power conferred to him by the constitution. Therefore, it is incredibly insincere trying to hold Barrow liable either morally or legally to some stupid MOU which contradicts the Gambian constitution. One can only surrender what legally belongs to you in any kind of contract. The five years mandate does not belong to Adama Barrow. It is a contract that belongs to the Republic the minute the votes are cast electing him into office.
- It is illegal to ‘offer’ something for a vote. Any quid pro quo in an election is tantamount to corruption. A promise to vote for Barrow in exchange for a shorter term limit is an abrogation of the constitution. If they protest for a “3 years Jotna” then the state has the right to charge for treason.
- Ballots are anonymous and cast in secret. Nobody can honestly count for all the reasons why Gambians voted for Adama Barrow. Therefore, casting a vote to elect a Coalition candidate is not a consideration supporting a binding promise.
- President Barrow made a promise in a speech and not in a written and signed document.
- Public statements by politicians are political speeches which have the highest degree of protection under the Gambian constitution. They can say anything they want
- This entire 3/5-year debate is a political question and not a moral issue nor a legal issue. It can only be resolved in a political process at the voting booth and not on the streets of Banjul.
- The UDP selected Adama Barrow as their best, and negotiated with the Coalition to nominate Barrow. If anything, the UDP itself must be held accountable for any breach of agreement if there was ever any. If voters are not happy with President Barrow they have two choices: (a) 2021 presidential elections or (b) impeachment through the National Assembly. However, a coup d’état by mass protests is NOT an option.
- Campaign promises could be unfulfilled due to no fault of the President. Therefore, practical considerations in the presence of unforeseen situations (the NDP, time and the myriad of commissions) override activists’ expectations.