Gambia’s National Assembly opening deferred after President failed to show

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Police (guard of honour) waiting for the arrival of the President outside the National Assembly building

The 2016 State Opening of the Parliament of The Gambia has been postponed at short notice after news emerged that the President was not coming.

The State Opening of the Parliament is a constitutional requirement in The Gambia that gives the President the opportunity to table his development programmes and policies before lawmakers.

However, several lawmakers that were randomly questioned by this news site, among them Fabakary Tombong Jatta, the majority leader, said they have not been told why the President’s appearance has been postponed.

The minority leader of the National Assembly, Samba Jallow, said they have been told at “short notice that the President is not coming”, as he expressed his frustration with the decision.

“This is a waste of time and resources. We feel embarrassed that the President had to wait until 10 minutes to the time when message came that he (President) cannot come. The notice is too short and we are not being told why,” Jallow, the voice of the opposition in the house, told journalists at his office.

“The executive is not taking people and also the National Assembly seriously. The money of the tax payers have been wasted…”

The seats inside the National Assembly including the public gallery were full to capacity waiting for the arrival of President when news came after 5pm that he won’t come.

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People leaving the Assembly after news emerged that the President is not coming

The speaker, Abdoulie Bojang, broke the news in the chambers to the waiting crowd saying the reason for postponement is beyond their control.

According to parliamentary staff who has been working at the National Assembly for over 20 years, this is the first time that a President of the country has failed his scheduled date of appearance before lawmakers on the day of the State Opening.

However, the parliamentary staff who does not want to be named, said there is nothing illegal about the President’s decision of postponing his appearance if there is an emergency.

The event has been postpone for “further notice”.

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