The Supreme Court of the Gambia today, 13th December, 2022 delivered a landmark ruling on the case involving Talib Ahmed Bensouda & 54 Others and the Attorney General. The Court’s judgement is as follows:
- The provision to Section 9 of the Local Government Act Cap. 33:01 Laws of The Gambia, mandating a period of at least twelve months between any local government elections and elections to the National Assembly is inconsistent with Section 194(a) of the Constitution and same is therefore hereby declared ultra vires and void;
- Accordingly, the said provision is hereby severed from the remaining provisions of Section 9 of the Local Government Act.
- This Court finds it unnecessary to disturb the next local government elections already scheduled for 2023. However, all local government elections subsequent to those to be held in 2023 shall be held every four years as mandated by Section 194(a) of the Constitution and the remaining part of Section 9 of the Local Government Act;
- Section 9A of the Local Government Act Cap. 33:01 Laws of The Gambia, which provides that a Local Government Council shall stand dissolved ninety days before a local government election and empowers the President to appoint an Interim Management Team to perform the functions and exercise the powers of a Council until the day preceding the first meeting of a Council after a Local Government election is inconsistent with Section 193 of the Constitution, and is therefore ultra vires and void;
- Section 20 of the Local Government Act Cap 33:01, which contains provisions for the removal from office of members of councils is not inconsistent with any of the provisions of the Constitution, is intra vires and therefore valid; and
- Section 27A of the Local Government Act Cap. 33:01 laws of The Gambia, which contains provisions prohibiting members of councils from travelling outside the Gambia without the prior approval of the Minister is inconsistent with the provisions of Section 193(1) of the Constitution, which provides for the high degree of local autonomy of councils, and is therefore ultra vires and void.