President Adama Barrow said Monday the decision for him to step aside and hand over power in three years will be left to the popular will of the Gambian people.
Barrow entered into a gentleman’s agreement with opposition leaders to form a coalition to defeat ex-President Yahya Jammeh in last year’s presidential polls.
The agreement for Barrow to lead the opposition coalition to victory was to see the new leader resigning from the nation’s highest office in 2020 and fresh elections held.
“We feel that we have to come together and compromise our principles to make sure we dislodge a dictator. It was just parties that came together and The Gambian people are bigger than the parties,” Barrow said.
“It is the Gambian people who will decide. I am not saying I am going to violate the agreement but if the Gambian people say ‘go’ after three years, I will go.”
Gambians elected Barrow, who has vowed not to return the country to the days of impunity and disregard to the rule of law, to serve a five-year term in December.
In his first press conference in the Gambia after the political logjam that followed his victory, Barrow had answered questions about resigning per the coalition agreement in riddles.
The Gambia’s Parliament axed the upper age limit that prevented senior citizens from seeking the presidency, paving the way for Barrow’s vice presidential nominee, Fatoumata Tambajang to be sworn-in.
It followed his address to Parliament on the State of the Nation on Monday where he emphasized the need for robust institutional, electoral and constitutional reforms.
Presidential term limit is high on the agenda for pro-democracy campaigners but it leaves it open to know if Barrow will not be running for a second term if left to the popular will of the people.
The coalition agreement bars Barrow from running for office for at least one term after serving his three years as president or at the end of his five-year term as constitutionally mandated.
Parties that united to form the coalition government were deeply divided while being opposition groups and fractures within the government remain.
The coalition of seven parties and one independent candidate united after UDP leader Ousainou Darboe was sent to prison by Jammeh, giving Barrow a quick rise to the leadership of the major party.
Barrow officially left the UDP to allow him to run as an independent candidate, although his candidacy continued to be supported by the UDP through its membership in the coalition.