The likes of Saihou Saidily who are with the view that Halifa has no authority to interpret a constitutional clause or matter following his dissentious averment on the CRC Bill 2017 in the Assembly, are not only wrong but ignorant of procedural and substantive law.
The Speaker of the National Assembly has dismissively made a similar comment against Honourable Suwaibou Touray when he pointed out a procedural violation. I wouldn`t qualify her actions to ignorance of the law, but a calculated act of arrogance and dishonesty with intent to frustrate the MP.
I am not aware of any case law in The Gambia that deals with the relevant area of contention to look at decisions. However, I want to draw your attention to the fact that procedural route of taking constitutional interpretation cases to the Supreme Court of The Gambia pursuant to section 124 (a) isn`t the only norm in constitutional jurisprudence.
If after the well-known definition given by Hans Kelsen, that a norm is nothing else but the meaning of a human action and if the duty of the interpreter consists in determining the meaning of a wording. It is indeed the interpreter who produces the norm deemed embedded in the text he/she is interpreting.
The interpreter of the statute is a true lawmaker (Halifa Sallah), and the interpreter of the constitution is a true constituent power. This could be the Executives, National Assembly and the Judiciary.
There are a plethora of decisions taken by non-judicial authorities that are justified by an interpretation of the constitutional text. For instance, the interpretation made by Halifa on the unconstitutionality of former President Jammeh’s infamous declaration of rejecting election results is still fresh in our minds.
In addition to this, when Halifa pointed out the unconstitutionality of the amendment made to section 62 (b) of the constitution earlier this year, the President took note of it and did not assent to the bill. His position was supported by the Justice Minister in a press conference, who acknowledged procedural violations.
Is Halifa not the one setting the precedence?
Away from home, at the beginning of the French Revolution, the United States signed two treaties with France, but thereafter, in 1798, as relations deteriorated between the two countries, Congress considered denouncing both treaties.
But the American constitution had not contemplated the issue of the authority empowered to denounce the treaties. There was no need to go to court. Meaning the legislature has the power to interpret violations and act upon them.
A few years before in France, the Legislative Assembly also interpreted the Constitution in the matter of ministerial liability. Under the Constitution of 1791, ministers shall be liable for any offense committed against national security and against the Constitution.
There are instances that the executive power must interpret the constitution. There are many examples under the French Fifth Republic of decisions made by the President of the Republic on the basis of an interpretation, sometimes considered audacious, of the constitution.
Essentially, what PDOIS MPs are doing in the National Assembly is legally interpreting constitutional clauses in their natural meanings. Parliamentary bodies have the power to interpret any act whether it is constitutional compliant or not. Interpretations are therefore determined by the respective powers of constitutional organs.
UDP supporters must stop this endless jealousy against PDOIS leaders. We know that you admire our issues-oriented and great articulate leaders, who are not a match to your ‘Terri-Kaffo’ political party of dynastic politics. If you want me to discuss all the legal methods and approaches of interpretation for you, the PDOIS School for the intelligence doors is open to all of you.