The leader of Gambia’s main opposition party has termed the country’s parliament’s rejection this week of a new constitution that would have limited the number of presidential terms a “dark day” for democracy.
After days of intense debate, 31 lawmakers in Parliament voted to reject the bill on Tuesday, while 21 voted to approve it for a national referendum.
The constitutional draft bill included a two-term limit, which would have applied retroactively, preventing President Adama Barrow from running for a new term.
Several West African leaders have recently used new charters as reset buttons on their mandates.
“Sept. 22 marks a very dark day in the post-dictatorship in Gambia,” said Ousainou Darboe, who leads the United Democratic Party.
This decision “highlights the unwillingness of the Barrow-led administration to prioritise public and national interest,” he said at a press conference.
Gambian leader Barrow assumed power after a 2016 election, ending Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year reign.
Barrow had promised to step down after three years in office, something he has reneged on resulting in violent protests across the country.
Gambia’s next presidential election is scheduled for 2021. Unless a new constitution bill is proposed, Barrow will have no limits on how many five-year terms he can seek.