Deputies suspend SoN address debate, demand for President or VP to attend session

EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Deputies at the National Assembly unanimously agreed to suspend their Monday morning slated debate on the President’s 2019 State of the Nation (SoN) address, demanding for the presence of the President himself, his Vice President or a representative at the session.
Wulli West parliamentarian Sidia Jatta tabled the motion to suspend the debate and was seconded by nominated member Mjanko Samusa, before the entire deputies’ approval. They have now suspended the debate until Wednesday, pending the presence of the President or the Vice President.
The Vice President is currently in New York, where she is representing the President at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, which commenced last Tuesday. Voting was conducted in which 24 of the Deputies voted for the suspension of the session while 11 voted against.
President Adama Barrow delivered his 2019 State of the Nation address last Thursday in which he discussed all the sectors of the government and their achievement during the year under review but failed to explain in detail how his government intends to implements programs and activities in the coming year.
Ministers of Fisheries and Water resources and Youth and Sports alongside some Permanent Secretaries were present at the Assembly but Foni Kansala representative, Musa Amul Nyassi said they only arrived when deputies have already decided.
The Deputies’ decision was a rare move in Gambia’s National Assembly for a debate to be suspended due to the absence of the president or his vice. “This is in order. It is a constitutional requirement for either the President or his representative to be present because we were going to debate on his (president) address,” Mr Nyassi said.
He argued that nothing is far more important and urgent than what the Deputies were going to discuss, but said it would be premature for him to comment on what will be their decision if the President of his representative fail to appear at the Assembly again on Wednesday.
But other National Assembly Members who spoke to Eye Africa and prefer to remain anonymous said many of their colleagues voted for the debate to be suspended due to their personal grievance against the government.  One of them said there was in fact no notification sent to the President and his cabinet for their presence at the Monday session.

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