On April 6, 2017, Gambian voters elected members of the unicameral National Assembly. The National Assembly is composed of 58 members.
Fifty-three members are directly elected from single-member constituencies for a five-year term using the first-past-the-post electoral system. The remaining five members were duly appointed by president Adama Barrow.
I was deeply concerned, at the time, that our entire legislative arm could not boast of a single Christian legislator. What concerned me even more was, the fact that, even though no Christian was elected, I was of the opinion at the time that the President would remedy this situation by appointment at least one Christian member amongst his Constitutionally mandated “nominated” five; the was not the case. The five nominated members did not consist of any Christian. I raised concerns at the time and I was told by Minister Darboe,(Over a conversation we had on this matter) that this was an innocent oversight by the President.
When the appointment of Ya Kumba Jaiteh was revoked by President Barrow, I keenly watched the events as it unfolded and indeed harbored a glimmer of hope that President Barrow would again right the wrong by replacing the Hon. Yakumba Jaiteh with a Christian appointee. I was disappointed yet again, but still made my self believe that, this again, was an other innocent oversight.
Yesterday, I was made aware that the Presidents political party, the NPP, had just concluded electing its national executive. I painstakingly combed through every name and noticed, yet again, that there was the obvious absence of a single Christian in the entire executive of the party.
My heart sunk. This time around, I was certain that this was not an innocent oversight but a systemic and consistent gesture that shows that there was and still there is not, any appetite for Gambian Christians in our political landscape, as demonstrated by the President.
This is indeed very worrying for me especially when my defense of the President and his government have been very consistent and pronounced; albeit very fair and honest.
Even the Co- opted member composition is devoid of a single Christian. This is not a true representation of our Gambia.
In subsequent days, I will be speaking directly to Gambian Christian voters in The Gambia. I will choose to have a very open and frank discussion on what would represent the best interest and security of Gambian Christians as they head to the polls in December.
Having defended the rights of Muslims and also vehemently campaigned against any sort of religious rhetoric that seeks to bring about division from the Christian camp, I am certain that most would agree with me that my utterances on this issue are and will always be honest, objective and balanced.
I shall return……….
By Melville Robertson Roberts