President Barrow taking his oath of office

The Coalition’s agreement 2016 was instrumental in dislodging the Gambia from the claws of a brutal regime. Certainly, its three years term limit was a decisive factor that unified the parties to reach a seminal agreement.

But the failure of the parties to govern as a unit have rendered the promise a bare promise, making it morally and legally unenforceable.

For now, President Barrow has shown the tenacity to rule the Gambia under the constitutional mandate. To that end this makes the President a believer of our constitution in respect of rule of law.

It is prudent that we allow the constitutional mandate to prevail over the three years Coalition’s agreement. This, will not only preserve the rule of law, but will also allow the smooth reinforcement of freedom, democracy and justice to support our new democratic society.

While reneging on a promise may be morally impermissible, it is morally right to break a promise which clashes with other high moral principles such as providing stable footing for our new democracy. It will not be morally right to deliver a promise inimical to collective interest of the citizens.

In fact the promise to deliver on the Coalition’s three years term was made on the consideration that; the Coalition’s parties will govern together.

In the absence of such unity, the promise has become undeliverable. Consequently, the promisor is allowed to focus his attention on things that best serve the country’s interest, such as the reforms of public institutions, and the expeditious delivery of transitional justice.

A hypothetical promise on a lottery win is not a lottery win. This provides a useful illustration of the circumstances in which a promise maker of a conditional promise can disregard the moral obligation upon him to keep such promise; in the collective interest of the people.

In this regard President Barrow has the right to serve for five years as the declared winner of 2016 election. The Coalition’s agreement, if given effect, will no doubt trump on the President’s political right in the constitution. Pursuant to section 26 of the 1997 constitution, the political right of a citizen must not be ‘unreasonably restricted’ by the State, including public institutions.

While it may be argued that the President’s right cannot be violated because of lack of state action, this argument lacks force for the simple fact that, the political parties that formed the Coalition are public institutions, so their expressed intention to restraint any citizen from exercising their political right fully, is a blatant violation of that fundamental right. The right engaged here is a fundamental right, which can be given horizontal effect in order to prevent its violation by public institutions such as political parties.

Call it what it is, let’s stop using legal jargons to mislead people in order to advance our hopeless academic arguments that are not grounded in the principles of rule of law; and are undoubtedly contrary to the constitution. No one should be allowed to contract your way out of the constitution if we are to maintain the rule of law.

The argument that the President will be in breach of a contract if he stays on as a President cannot be substantiated. That is because the contract one relied on seems unenforceable.

Therefore, the President has the right to rule for the 5 years. The agreement was repudiated for the very fact that some of the parties failed to join the Government and govern collectively, others behaved in such a way contrary to the agreement.

For that reason, their failures to work with the Government for collective good resulted to a repudiatory breach of the agreement. This gives the innocent party (in this case the President) the option to elect and accept repudiation. From contractual stand point the agreement is dead in the water because of the fundamental breaches on the part of the parties.

Certainly, the recent public statement made by OJ to uphold the Constitution mandate sounds dead knell for the agreement, a party to the initial agreement if he publicly announced his support for President Barrow to govern for the constitutional mandate; to my mind, this confirms that the MOU is dead. Surely, you can’t force parties to enforce an agreement when some/all of them call into question the validity of such agreement.

From a utilitarian perspective, the right action is what represents the majority’s interests and the one likely to maximise the happiness of all citizens.

As the President remains committed to delivering his constitutional mandate in accordance with the NDP, Which no doubt, will transform the Gambia to a modern and democratic society.

Therefore, with prudence and foresight we need to allow the President to govern in the exercise of that mandate, so as to allow the Government to focus on creating a fairer and happy Gambia. We must resist the temptation to participate in pointless protests, which is likely to cause mayhem for ordinary citizens’ lives, and potential destabilise our smooth transition to a democracy.

Of course, citizens are at liberty to criticise the Government for malpractices if they can substantiate such claim. But it is plainly reckless to publicly allege corruption without providing specific examples, or credible evidence to support such claim. Engaging in tittle-tattle politics will serve as a fundamental distraction from focusing on the real issues affecting Gambians.

It is only through frank dialogue and honest political discourse that we can create a democratic society, which serves all, not the one that serves a class of people. Gutter-politics has no place in the new the Gambia.

The foundation of any democratic society is tolerance, and broad-mindedness, without which there is no democratic society’. These are principles we must all respect and live by them in order to coexist peacefully in a democratic society.

To this end, I urge all Gambians to stand up and be counted for upholding the supremacy of our Constitution; rather than perpetuating activities that are affront to the rule of law, and in contempt of our Constitution.

Forward with the Gambia.