President Adama Barrow’s cabinet-in-waiting: here’s what we know so far

There about half a dozen spots left as Gambians watch to see who President Adama Barrow will select to fill critical senior government positions.

The people that Mr. Barrow pick will not only be tasked with running entire ministries and state departments, they’ll be the best indication of how Barrow intends to govern and which of his many policy positions he intends to pursue after 22 years of dictatorship in the Gambia.

Gambians expected to have the nominees being named today, but it seems they will only be known at a swearing-in on Wednesday. That did not, however, stop journalists from digging to find who may be manning what government bureau.

Here is what we have learned so far:

UDP Treasurer and financial consultant Amadou Sanneh, who was released from jail on Monday after being held by the former regime for three years in the notorious Mile II prison will be Finance Minister.

Gender and rights activist Dr. Isatou Touray, who is so far the only woman in the cabinet beside Veep pick Fatoumata Tambajang is set to become the Trade and Commerce Minister. She is one of the leaders of the coalition after abandoning her independent bid for the presidency.

Baa Tambadou, a Gambian lawyer who has worked as a UN Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia has been named as the likely candidate for the Attorney General and Justice Minister job. If confirmed, it seems he will be the only apolitical appointee among the eleven.

Longtime opposition leader and former President Yahya Jammeh’s arch rival Ousainou Darboe is poised to take the Foreign Affairs Ministry. Barrow rose to power after the jailing of Darboe, a human rights attorney for taking part in opposition protests that rocked the country in the Spring of last year. Barrow had confirmed that Mr. Darboe will ‘definitely’ be in his cabinet, but most expected him to be the Attorney General.

Henry Gomez of the GPDP Party who had lived in Germany for long is confirmed to become the Youths and Sports Minister. Gomez has already been through a vetting by an oversight committee clearing any questions about dual citizenship.

Former hotelier and entertainment manager turned fierce politician Hamat Bah will be Minister of Tourism and Culture. Mr. Bah extensive experience in tourism and was head of Mansea Beach Hotel.

Former government minister under Sir Dawda Jawara’s PPP, Omar Jallow is poised to become the Minister of Agriculture. A critical sector for the Gambian economy and formerly its largest employer, especially in its rural communities. Mr. Jallow was Minister of Agriculture when Jammeh took over in a military coup in ’94.

Opposition propagandist Lamin Dibba, who was jailed with UDP Leader Ousainou Darboe last year will become the next Land and Regional Governance Minister.

Although this lawyer has no service experience under his belt, his representation of those abused by the security system and being the target of an assassination have put him up for the homeland security job. Opposition GMC leader Mai Ahmad Fatty, who has been the Special Adviser to President Adama Barrow is to become the Minister of Interior, overseeing the security apparatus and detention centers.

Former Banjul Mayor and senior PPP member James Gomez will be heading a ministry that is key to President Barrow’s job creation plan for the youths. Mr. Gomez will be the Minister of Fisheries, Water Resources and National Assembly Matters.

This will only be definite on Wednesday after they are sworn-in. They will be Barrow’s powerful advisers on critical policy issues.

Barrow is to be lauded for constituting a vetting committee. Top administration officials and advisers do not require parliamentary confirmation.

Who Barrow chooses to surround himself with greatly affects what his administration will accomplish. He has appointed former military chief Lt. Gen. Masanneh Kinteh as his National Security Advisor.

These top aides such as Mr. Kinteh are just a slice of the hundreds of appointments Barrow may need to find appointees for — people who will oversee day-to-day operations at the agencies and diplomatic missions that make up the government.

Aside from the cabinet, people still want to know who would become the country’s Chief Justice, Speaker of the National Assembly, Economic and Domestic Policy Advisers, and Ambassadors to the United States, Senegal, United Kingdom and the United Nations.

(Reporting by Saikou Jammeh; Writing by Sam Phatey; Contribution by Sainey MK Marenah)

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