(JollofNews) – The Third Republic must usher in a transition from the absolutism of the monarchical presidency under which executive order reigns supreme over the constitution, regulations and basic fundamental rights thus reducing sovereign citizens into subjects and ensure an accelerated power of motion to consolidate a people centred government whose every action is bound by the guards and fences of a just constitution, just institutions and good practice thus ensure that the state becomes an instrument of protection of liberty, dignity and prosperity rather than an instrument of coercion. In this way, the sovereign Gambian people would ceased to be subjects and become the architects of our own destiny of justice, freedom, prosperity and happiness.
I Halifa Sallah, being conscious of the fact that for 51 years of self-rule, the Gambia has never gone through a peaceful transfer of state power from one party or person to another, which has led to the consolidation of the monarchical political culture of self-perpetuating rule;
Noting that a political transition is absolutely necessary that would give rise to a government that could be scrutinised, criticised, restrained and even impeached for misappropriation of public resources, misrule, bad governance, misconduct and misrepresentation;
Convinced that such a transitional government is only conceivable if the president does not appoint or terminate the appointment of the majority of the members of thecCabinet and is not part of a party which controls the majority of seats in the National Assembly;
Hereby pledge as follows:
Composition of the cabinet
That if elected president, I will directly appoint only one third of the Ministers in a 21 member cabinet, two thirds of the membership would be appointed based on the recommendations made by the other stakeholders, and in the case of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information, the appointment would be done in consultation with the Medical and Dental Association and the Gambia Press Union.
The appointment of Vice President would be done based on the recommendation of coalition partners. A memorandum of understanding would be signed with coalition partners to give guarantees that I would not use presidential powers to remove ministers proposed by them but would instead refer any allegation of incompetence, violation of the constitution, misconduct to the National Assembly for a vote of censure to be considered under section 75 of the constitution or;
Furthermore, I would only be responsible for appointing the following ministers and would only rely on section 75 for their removal pending constitutional amendments to introduce impeachment proceedings to remove ministers: Since section 152 of the constitution would oblige me to cause the annual estimates to be laid before the National Assembly, I would appoint the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs.
Since under section 72 subsection 2 of the constitution the Attorney General is the principal legal adviser of the government, I will appoint the Attorney General and minister of Human Rights and Justice.
Since under section 79, I would be responsible for conclusion of treaties and international agreements, I would appoint the minister of Foreign Affairs and African Unification.
Since education is the backbone of a self- reliant and self- determined development and for nurturing the sovereign citizens, I would appoint the Minister of Higher Education.
Since Agriculture and natural recourses is the backbone of an agrarian economy and constitutes the key basis for the eradication of poverty, I would appoint the minister of Agriculture.
Since a balanced and proportionate development of the country is inconceivable without rural development, I would appoint the minister of Regional Administration and Rural Development.
Since a third Republic is designed to eradicate all discrimination and imbalances in governance, especially gender disparity, I would appoint the Minister of Women and children’s Affairs.
Composition of the National Assembly
Since the National Assembly is the main oversight institution which prevents violation of the constitution and deter or remedy misconduct through impeachment proceedings, PDOIS as a party, if I am elected president has agreed to endeavour to hold no more than one-quarter plus-one of the seats in the National Assembly, so that neither the executive nor the coalition partners would be able to amend the constitution without consultation and mutual agreement.
To ensure that the Gambia consolidates a secular, democratic and sovereign republic with a sovereign people basking under a system of government derived from the consent of the people, and driven by representatives who are elected by, accountable to and removable by the people, I HalifaSallah would not hold any office in PDOIS while serving as president. I will declare my assets before assuming the office of president and when handing over the office after serving for only one term; I will not take sides during electoral campaign and would ensure that the Independent electoral commission has all the powers and means to conduct free, fair and transparent presidential election, after my one term tenure.
State media would be accessible to all political parties and civil society sectors on a weekly basis and would be obliged to disseminate divergent views and opinions from all sectors of society.
Selection of flag bearer
Section 47 of the constitution makes provision for a presidential candidate to be nominated by 5000 voters with at least 200 voters being resident in each region;
I, Halifa Sallah, wish to express my preparedness to participate in a primary where each presidential candidate, being independent or a party nominee, would provide a list of five thousand nominators for his or her candidature, and other parties with candidates doing the same to enable a coalition to have a list of voters who will participate in electing one person from among the presidential candidates to be flag bearer of the coalition; I will further subscribe to each candidate selecting a man and a woman to preside over the election in each region.
Preparation for the primary
I, HalifaSallah, do hereby wish to express my readiness to travel throughout the country to promote my candidature, explain the policies I intend to implement, with all the candidates doing the same and enter into debate with any candidate from April to 30 June 2016, so that the people would be able to compare the caliber of candidates to make an informed choice of a flag bearer. I will be willing to submit my candidature to a primary election to contest with other candidates of other parties or independent candidates, so that a flag bearer of a united front could be selected by 30 July 2016.
This concrete programme for the establishment of a united front, or coalition, for the 2016 presidential election, has been approved by the party which approved my candidature, and I am hereby forwarding the programme to the party for submission to the Gambia opposition for electoral reform as a proposal for consideration by all member parties. I am also putting it in the public space for other independent aspirants to the presidency consider the same.
This is done in good faith in the public interest, and it is put in the public space to dismiss the misrepresentation that PDOIS is opposed to a coalition. We hope other parties and independent personalities will put their proposals in the public space so that negotiation would begin to narrow down the differences.