Attorney General and Gambia’s Justice Minister, Aboubacarr Baa Tambadou apologized took responsibility for not properly guiding the government in attempting to amend a discriminatory age restriction in the constitution.
The West African nation, which overcame a turbulent transfer of power found itself sinking in controversy after President Adama Barrow picked former UN worker, Fatoumata Tambajang as his vice president.
“…..the Ministry of Justice failed to properly guide this process. As Attorney General and Minister for Justice, I take full responsibility for this error. Steps are now being taken so that this will be remedied at the earliest opportunity. Appropriate action will also be taken to ensure that such a situation does not occur again in the future,” said Mr. Tambadou.
Gambia’s constitution restricts senior citizens from becoming president or vice president, pushing the Barrow administration to send a bill to the opposition-backed APRC parliament to remove the discriminatory clause.
Attorney General Tambadou welcomed the criticism and vigilance of citizens, who took to social media and wrote on newspapers to constructively engage authorities and bringing the constitutional breach to their attention.
“It is a new era in The Gambia,” says Tambadou, who advised the coalition that ousted the country’s former autocratic leader Yahya Jammeh. He has advised President Barrow not to sign the bill into law.
“I welcome the constructive engagement of the generality of Gambians on this matter. It is refreshing to see that a great number of people have taken to the constitution of late and are scrutinizing every government action to ensure compliance with its provisions. It is a positive and welcome development in our new democracy. It is a healthy practice which I hope will become a habit in our country,” according to Tambadou.
Gambia’s Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty, who tabled the bill in parliament said the Attorney General was consulted after the Special Adviser to the President, Halifa Sallah criticized the amendment as ‘unconstitutional.’
Gambia’s new government is working towards ridding the country of a two-decades-long dictatorial structure put in place by Jammeh’s administration. The Barrow administration is urging citizens to exercise patience and understanding as there will be other challenges and setbacks as they seek to rebuild institutions based on a solid foundation of respect for the rule of law and democracy.