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Published On: Fri, Nov 3rd, 2023

The National Assembly Passed Controversial Former President Bill 2023

The Gambia National Assembly yesterday passed the controversial Former President Bill 2023, after some selected National Assembly members of the parliament boycotted the proceedings following the announcement of the former president’s bill by the speaker to be considered under the certificate of urgency.

The bill was tabled by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dawda A. Jallow, under a certificate of urgency, repeals and replaces the Former President Act.

In his presentation, Jallow explained that the bill aims to repeal and replace the Former Presidents Act, which covers the office, allowances, and other benefits of former presidents.

The primary aim of this bill is to revise and replace the Former President Act with several amendments. It was presented to the lawmakers by Hon. Dawda A. Jallow, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who invoked a certificate of urgency to accelerate the bill’s consideration.

Prior to the minister tabling the bill, NAMs from the UDP, PDOIS, and one independent candidate staged a walkout, citing their refusal to accept the bill under a certificate of urgency. The vote on whether to proceed with the certificate of urgency resulted in 30 members in favour and 17 against.

During the presentation of the bill, Minister Hon. Dawda A. Jallow outlined its primary objectives for the assembly members to deliberate upon. The bill aims to overhaul the Former Presidents Act, which encompasses matters related to the post-presidential office, allowances, and other associated benefits.

The Minister stated, “Up until now, former presidents have retired without any formal pension from the state. This bill proposes the introduction of an annual pension and office expenses for former Presidents, ensuring the preservation of the dignity of the Office of the President.”

He added, “The proposed pension scheme and retirement benefits also provide recognition and gratitude for a former President’s service to The Gambia, which does not end with his term of office. It is believed that many Gambians will not want to see their former presidents living the remainder of their lives in destitute. The Bill further proposes a one time six – month lump sum gratuity payment to an outgoing President to assist his or her transition to post presidential life,”

The Minister also emphasized that the bill entitles a former President to an official state funeral upon their demise, as a mark of the nation’s final respect.

After the bill’s second reading, members engaged in further debates regarding its merits and principles. Those present overwhelmingly expressed their support for the bill.

Among the amendments introduced, some key changes include reducing the former President’s pension from 100% of the current President’s salary to 80%, designating vehicles provided to former Presidents as state property, and making the house provided to former Presidents state property upon their passing.

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