The President-Elect of the West African nation of The Gambia has made it a top priority to build his cabinet and kick off the country’s needed reform process.
“We want to get a cabinet in place and it all starts from there. We want reforms and that’s what we will do,” President-elect Barrow said.
It is not clear who will be in the government, but the rumor mill is already churning out names as Gambians watch to see who Barrow will select to fill his cabinet. Political observers have pitched that the vice president is likely to be a woman. The position is poised between former UN diplomat Fatoumata Tambajang and renowned gender activist and academician Dr. Isatou Touray. Touray has also been named as a potential minister for health, gender, social welfare and women’s affairs.
Gambian authorities under Jammeh have been accused of many rights violations, and the international community is already advocating for a truth and reconciliation committee. It has put human rights lawyer and veteran politician Lawyer Ousainou Darboe in the lead for the country’s Attorney General and Justice Minister. Darboe served as a pro-bono attorney after the military regime established a commission of inquiry against former officials in the PPP government.
Although pro-democracy campaigners are frowning against the appointment of National Assembly members by the president, politician Halifa Sallah has been named as the likely candidate for Speaker of the House and Sedia Jatta, a former parliamentarian has been named as a possible pick for the top job.
Sallah with Tambajang has been named as possible pitch for Foreign Affairs minister.
Opposition leader and businessman Hamat Bah is said to likely become the country’s tourism and culture minister, Omar Jallow the Agriculture Minister. Jallow and Mai Ahmad Fatty, a potential attorney general were also named as a possible minister of civil service or trade minister.
There are other members of the political universe, like Henry Gomez and Dr. Bolong Bojang, who are also up for top jobs.
The president-elect has not made any formal announcement, but analysts are floating suggestions trying to predict who would be in the government and the positions they may have.
President-elect Barrow is determined to put together a cabinet that will help him turn the country around, but there are worries that there may be tensions privately among politicians as to who has to be in what position.
But beyond the cabinet, there are questions of who will be President-elect Barrow’s State House staffers, including his chief of protocol, permanent secretary, policy advisors (including economic, national security, and domestic policy advisors), press secretary, cabinet secretary, chief strategist, and most importantly his chief of staff (minister of presidential affairs).
The people that Barrow pick will determine how he intends to govern and will determine if his administration is a government of national unity.
Most political junkies are not talking about key critical positions, including interior and defense ministers, chief justice and justices of the supreme and appeal courts.
Barrow’s cabinet is expected to be filled with political titans from parties that formed the coalition that brought him to power. There are a few possibilities that qualified Gambians in the diaspora may be called upon to serve. Barrow is also likely to look into civil society leadership and the private sector.
There is no indication that President-elect Adama Barrow has met with anyone to offer jobs, but his recent statement shows that debates are on regarding the appointments.
The coalition has a transition team that may recommend people for the top jobs and outgoing President Yahya Jammeh has offered his support to help the transition. Barrow told Jammeh who would seek advice from him as he works to take over the government.
It is unknown if Barrow will keep some former senior government officials within the government, especially the technocrats in various departments, notably finance and economic ministry, and foreign affairs.