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Gambia: Constitutional Law

(Feb. 2, 2008) The Gambia's Supreme Court recently dismissed a case brought jointly by two opposition parties, the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the National Reconciliation Party (NRP), challenging the constitutionality of recent amendments made to The Gambia's Constitution and the Local Government Act. The Attorney General and the Independent Electoral Commission of The Gambia were named defendants.

The plaintiffs argued that the recent amendments – which empower the President of The Gambia to dissolve municipal councils and to discharge elected councilors from office, and elected councilors to select chairpersons of local government areas in lieu of their being chosen through an election process of universal adult suffrage [?], violate The Gambia's Constitution. They claimed that the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia 1997 (Amendment) Act and Local Government (Amendment) Act 2007 (Act No. 13 of 2007) should be struck down, and an injunction against elections for municipal and local government authorities, scheduled for January 24 in accordance with the amended Local Government Act and the Constitution, be issued.

The Supreme Court ruled against the plaintiffs and dismissed the case on the basis that it was incompetent to adjudicate on the matter and that the case was instituted improperly. It awarded one of the defendants, the Independent Electoral Commission, D20,000 (about US$906) to defray litigation costs. (Gambia News: Supreme Court to Rule on Constitutional Case, GAMBIANOW.COM'S GAMBIA NEWS, Jan. 10, 2008, available at http://www.gambianow.com/news/News/895.html.)