Dear Pa: Please allow me space in your widely read newspaper to shed light on the above subject.

The 1997 Constitution of The Gambia is very clear as to who will be in charge in the event the office of the president become vacant

Section 65 (1) The office of the President shall become vacant during the term of the Presidency-

(a) On the death or resignation of the President,

(b) On the President ceasing to hold office under section 63, 66, or section 67

Section 65 (2) Whenever the office of the President becomes vacant in the circumstances set out in subsection (1) the Vice President or if there is no Vice President, in office at the time, the Speaker shall assume the office of President for the residue of the term of the President

(3) Before assuming office under this section, the Vice -President or, as the case may be, the Speaker shall take the prescribed oaths for the office of President.

Now it’s important to review section 63, 66, and 67 inter-alia

Section 63 deals with the tenure of the office of the President as follows, Section 63 (1) The term of the office of an elected President shall, subject to subsection (3) and (6) be for a term of five years, and the person elected president shall before assuming office take the prescribed oaths

Subsection 63 (3)) A person elected as President may at any time during his term of office be removed from office if, a no confidence motion is passed in the National Assembly supported by two thirds of the members of the National Assembly.

Section 66 deals with the mental or physical incapacity. Section 66 (1) Where the Speaker receives a notice in writing signed by not less than one half of all the members of the National Assembly alleging that the President is, by reason of infirmity of mind or body, incapable of discharging the functions of his office, and giving particulars of the alleged incapacity, the Speaker shall request the Chief Justice to constitute, on the recommendation of the head of the medical services of The Gambia, a medical Board  Comprising at least five independent medical practitioners of appropriate standing

(2) The Board shall enquire in to the matter and make a report to the Chief Justice stating the opinion of the Board whether or not the President is, by reason of infirmity of mind or body, incapable of discharging the functions of the office of President. The President, and if he or she so wishes, his or her own medical adviser may appear, and shall have the right to be heard, before the Board

(3) Where the Board reports that the President is incapable of discharging the functions of his or her office by reasons of infirmity of mind or body, the Chief Justice shall submit the report to the Speaker, who shall, if the National Assembly is not sitting, summon the National Assembly to meet within seven days.

(4) The members of the National Assembly shall deliberate on the report and vote on it and the President shall only be removed where two thirds of the members present and voting, vote for his removal.

(5) The report of the Board shall be final and conclusive and shall not be enquired into by any court.

Section 67 (1) The President may be removed from office in accordance with this section on any of the following grounds

(a) abuse of office, willful violations of the oath of allegiance or the President’s oath of office, or willful

violation of any provision of this Constitution, or

(b) Misconduct in that  –

(i)   He or she has conducted himself in a manner which brings or is likely to bring the office of President into contempt or disrepute, or

(ii) He or she has dishonestly done any act which is prejudicial or inimical to the economy of The Gambia or dishonestly omitted to act with similar consequences

Thanks for providing me space in your widely read newspaper.

WRITTEN BY BURAY A. JAWOH, (SEATTLE)

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