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President Barrow to remain Gambia’s leader for full tenure

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Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has been given the nod by the political coalition, which hoisted him as their standard bearer in the 2016 presidential election, to remain in office for a full five-year term.

The coalition’s chairwoman, Fatoumatta Tambajang, emerged from hours of a closed-door meeting with President Barrow at State House on Friday, 27 September 2019, with confirmation that its members have granted his wish for a full term.

”On the basis of the non-completion of the reform agenda, we, as a coalition, have decided to extend his [referring to President Barrow] social legitimacy from three years to five years,” Tambajang-Jallow, a former vice president told reporters.

However, the United Democratic Party (UDP), from where Barrow had emerged to be nominated as the coalition’s stand bearer to run for president and the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS), did not take part in the meeting.

Under the Gambian constitution, an elected president is mandated to serve a five-year tenure although the occupant may decide not to go for a full term.

In a campaign promise to Gambians in the run-up to his shock election victory over long-term ruler Yahya Jammeh, President Barrow had promised to occupy the presidency for three years at the head of a transition program after which elections were to be held.

There has been unrelenting criticism of Barrow over his later bid to toss aside this election promise in favour of a five-year tenure to the bewilderment of some of his compatriots.

Many Gambians hold that reneging on his promise represents a betrayal of trust which had motivated them to vote for him and end 22 years of Jammeh’s controversial leadership.

However, by granting Barrow his wish, the coalition may hope that it would finally put to rest the vexed question about his time in office.

Through the course of almost three years, this had led to sharp political divisions mirrored by two diametrically opposed forces whose births took inspiration from this dilemma, a local social commentator told the press on condition of anonymity.

The so-called Three Years Jotna Movement’s stated aim is to unseat Barrow by a series of mass disobedience campaigns that encourages civil servants not to report to work for a week next December when the three-year anniversary of his election comes around.

However, another movement backing the president has also come into being to checkmate that.

“Thus, 2 December when Barrow’s election would clock three years sets the stage for confrontation between the two opposing forces with not only Barrow’s presidential longevity at stake but also Gambia’s stability” the commentator warned.

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