Is The Gambia still under dictatorship? A piece published by the Standard Newspaper today captioned: “Barrow sends Speaker Jack to Tanor Dieng’s funeral” seems to have suggested that there is no separation of powers in The Gambia. The Executive, under the leadership of Adama Barrow, is seemingly having an oversight authority over the Legislative branch of government, which the Speaker heads, per the Standard headline. In a normal democracy, the Legislative branch of government, should have an oversight authority over the Executive. It is only in banana republics that the Executive could send a speaker of a National Assembly to represent the President at a funeral in Senegal.

“President Barrow has dispatched a delegation led by the Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly, Mrs. Mariam Jack-Denton to attend the funeral of Mr. Ousmane Tanor Dieng a former Prime Minster and prominent politician in Senegal. Mr Dieng died on Monday, aged 72,” the paper further reported.

It is now clear that Gambia’s National Assembly is a rubber-stamp National Assembly. If the Speaker of the House, can double as an envoy for the President, that tells you that our country, hasn’t fully recovered from the menace of dictatorship. A sad state of affairs.

We refused to buy this theory that President Barrow is ignorant of the basic tenets of governance. Even a sixth grader, can comprehend that separation of power is sacrosanct in any democratic dispensation. The Executive, Judiciary, and the Legislature, should operate independently, without any interference from the above-mentioned government bodies.

The Gambia is ruled through an Executive style of governance. The President enjoys sweeping powers. He is empowered by law to nominate the Speaker of the National Assembly. Such nomination must be approved by the National Assembly before it is finalized.

The political party with the majority in the National Assembly doesn’t nominate the Speaker. The Speaker secured her job through the President; hence, which makes her by default to pledge her allegiance to the President and not to the country. She becomes the President’s go to person, in the National Assembly.

The President reserves the right to revoke the Speaker’s nomination if he so desires. But such revocation must be done in good faith, without malice or ill-will.

Under normal circumstances, the President should have delegated his Vice President, or Secretary General to represent him at the funeral in Dakar. He could also have used one of his advisers to represent him at the funeral.

Gambians should begin to pay attention to some of the alleged constitutional infractions allegedly perpetrated by the President. Any attempt by the President to annex the Legislative branch of government into the Executive, should be resisted. These are not good signs for our so-called newfound democracy. We rest our case.

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