NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND LEGISLATION

PART 1: ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AND MEMBERS

Establishment of National Assembly  Article 87
There shall be a National Assembly of The Gambia.

Members of The National Assembly  Article 88
The National Assembly shall comprise –
  1. forty-eight members elected from the constitutions demarcated by the Boundaries Commission; and
  2. five members nominated by the president.
(2) Before taking his or her seat in the National Assembly, a member shall take the prescribed oaths before the Speaker: Provides that a member may take part in the election of a speaker and Deputy speaker before taking such oaths.  

Qualifications for Membership to the National Assembly  Article 89  (1) A person is qualified for election to the National Assembly if he or she-
  1. is a citizen of The Gambia;
  2. has attained the age of twenty-one years;
  3. has been ordinarily resident in the constituency for a period of at least one year prior to nomination day;
  4. is able to speak the English Language with a degree of proficiency sufficient to enable him or her to take part in the proceedings of the National Assembly; and
  5. has made such declaration of his or her assets to the Independent Electoral Commission as is required in accordance with section 43.
(2) The provisions of paragraphs (a), (b) and (d) of subsection (1) shall apply to a nominated candidate who shall also be required to make a declaration of his assets to the Independent Electoral Commission.  

Disqualification for membership of the National Assembly  Article 90.
(1) No person is qualified for election as a member of the National Assembly if he or she-
  1. holds the citizenship or nationality of a country other than The Gambia
  2. is adjudged under any law of The Gambia to be of unsound mind;
  3. is under sentence of death imposed on him or her by any court, or is serving, or within five years of his or her nomination for election completed serving, a sentence of imprisonment for a term exceeding six months imposed on him or her by a court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him or her by a court, and has not received a free pardon;
  4. has been found guilty of any abuse of office, corruption or any offence connected with public elections by a court;
  5. has been found by the report of a commission or committee of inquiry (the proceedings of which have been held and published in accordance with the relevant law) to be incompetent to hold public office by reason of having acquired assets unlawfully or defrauded the State or misused or abused his or her office, or wilfully acted in a manner pre-judicial to the interests of the State, and the findings have not been set aside on appeal or judicial review;
  6. within the three years preceding nomination day, holds or acts in any office prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly the functions of which involve responsibility for, or in connection with the conduct of elections to the National Assembly or the compilation of any register of voters for the purpose of such an election;
  7. unless granted leave of absence in accordance with section 170, holds a public office or an office in the public service;
  8. (h) holds or acts in any office or appointment that may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly
  9. is a member of a disciplined force ;
  10. is an elected member of a local government authority ;
  11. is a Director Seyfo or Alkalo; or
  12. is adjudged or otherwise declared a bankrupt under any law of The Gambia and has not been discharge
(2) For the purposes of this section-
  1. a sentence of imprisonment imposed by a court outside The Gambia for an offence in respect of and act or omission which, if committed within The Gambia would constitute a comparable offence, shall be deemed to be a sentence of imprisonment within the meaning of paragraph (c) of subsection (1):
  2. no account shall be taken of a sentence of imprisonment imposed as an alternative to, or in default of, the payment of a fine;
  3. the period of disqualification under paragraph (d) or (e) of subsection (1) shall not exceed five years after-
    • the completion of any sentence of imprisonment passed for such offence; or
    • the expiry of any period during which the person concerned has been debarred from holding public office.
(3) This section shall apply to nominated members with such modifications relating to time limits for elections.

Tenure of seats of  Of members of the National Assembly Article 91.
(1) A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat in the National Assembly-
  1. on the dissolution of the National Assembly;
  2. subject to subsection (2), if any circumstances arise which, if he or she were not a member, would cause him or her to be disqualified for election as a member or nomination as a member;
  3. if he or she resigns his or her office as member  
  4. if he or she ceases to be a member of the political party of which he or she was a member at the time of his or her election;
  5. Provided that nothing in this paragraph shall apply on a merger of political parties at the national level where such merger is authorised by the constitution of the parties concerned;
  6. if, having been elected a member as an independent candidate, he or she joins a political party
  7. if he or she is recalled by the writing electorate in accordance with an Act of the National Assembly to give effect to section 92;
  8. if, without the permission in writing of the Speaker or reasonable cause, he or she is absent from ten or more sittings of the National Assembly during any period that the National Assembly is in session and continued to meet;
  9. if he or she is found in contempt of the National Assembly and is expelled on a resolution supported by not less than three quarters of all the members of the National Assembly.
(2) An Act of the National assembly may, in order to permit any member who has been-
  1. sentenced to death;
  2. convicted or found guilty of any offence or subject any offence or subject to any finding to which subsection (1) of section 90 refers;
  3. adjudged to be of unsound mind; or
  4. adjudged or otherwise declared to be bankrupt, to appeal against any such decision in accordance with any law, provided that, subject to such conditions as may be specified, the decision shall not have effect for the purposes of this section until such time as may be so prescribed.
(3) The Clerk of the National assembly shall immediately inform the Independent Electoral Commission of any vacancy among the members of the National assembly.  

Recall of members Article 92.
An Act of National Assembly may make provision for the recall of an elected member of the National Assembly. Such an Act shall-
(a) require that a petition for recall shall be supported by at least one-third of the registered voters in the constituency and
(b) prescribe the grounds for recall and the powers of, and procedures to be adopted by, the IEC on receipt of such a petition.

The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker  Article 93.
(1) The Speaker of the National Assembly and the deputy Speaker shall be elected by the members of the Assembly from among the nominated members.
(2) The Chief Justice shall preside at the election of a Speaker.
(3) Unless he or she sooner dies or resigns the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker shall vacate their respective offices-
  1. if he or she ceases to be a member of the National Assembly,
  2. if he or she is removed from that office by a resolution of the National Assembly supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of the National Assembly.
(4) Persons elected to the office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker shall, before assuming the duties of their respective offices take the prescribed oaths.
(5) No business shall be transacted in the National Assembly other than the election of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker when either of those offices is vacant.

Clerk of the National Assembly  Article 94
(1) There shall be a Clerk of the National Assembly who shall be appointed by the National Assembly
(2) The office of the clerk of the national Assembly and the offices of members of his or her staff shall be offices in the public service.  

Remuneration  and allowances Article 95.
The Speaker, the Deputy Speaker and the other members of the National Assembly shall receive such remuneration and benefits, including retirement benefits, as an Act of the National assembly may prescribe.  

PART 2: THE MEETING AND DISSOLUTION OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

General election Article 96.
There shall be a general election of all the members of the National Assembly which shall be held three months after the date of election of office of the President.  

Session of the of the National assembly  Article 97.
(1) The first session of the National Assembly after a general election shall be held in such place in The Gambia as the President may, by Proclamation, appoint.
(2) The President may request the Speaker summon a session of the National Assembly in the event of a declaration of a public emergency under section 34.
(3) Subject to subsections (1) and (2), the National Assembly shall determine the times of its sessions: Provided that there shall be a session of the National Assembly at least once in every year.  

Sittings of the National Assembly  Article 98
(1) Subject to section 97, sittings of the National Assembly shall be at such times as the National Assembly shall appoint: Provided that-
  1. the Speaker shall summon a sitting of the National assembly-
    • when requested to do so by the President; or
    • within seven days of a request for a meeting of the National Assembly by not less than one quarter of all the members of the National Assembly;
  2. the National Assembly shall sit quarterly.
(2) unless the National Assembly otherwise directs for good cause, the sittings of the National Assembly shall be open to the public.  

Term of the National Assembly  Article 99  
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, the National Assembly shall stand dissolved on the day immediately preceding the day appointed in accordance with section 97 for the first session of the next following National Assembly.
(2) At any time when The Gambia is at war or a state of emergency is declared, the National assembly may, by resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members, extend the life of the National Assembly for not more than three months at a time, but the life of the National Assembly shall not be extended under this subsection for more than a total period of one year.  

PART 3: LEGISLATIVE AND OTHER POWERS OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

The Legislative Power  Article 100.
(1) The legislative power of The Gambia shall be exercised by Bills passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President.
(2) The National Assembly shall not pass a Bill-
  1. to establish a one party state;
  2. to establish any religion as a state religion; or
  3. to alter the decision or judgement of a court in any proceedings to the prejudice of any party to those proceedings, or deprive any person retroactively of vested or acquired rights, but subject thereto, the National Assembly may pass Bills designed to have retroactive effect.
(3) Where a Bill passed by the National Assembly is presented to the President for his or her assent, the President shall, within thirty days, assent to the Bill or return it to the National Assembly with the request that the National assembly reconsiders the Bill; and if he or she requests the National Assembly to reconsider the Bill, the President shall state the reasons for the request and any recommendations for amendment of the Bill.
(4) Where the National assembly has reconsidered a Bill as so requested in accordance with sub-section (3) and has resolved by a vote supported by not less than two thirds of all the members of the National Assembly that the Bill, with or without the amendments recommended by the President, be presented again to the President for his or her assent, the President shall assent to the Bill within seven days of it being so presented.
(5) A Bill which has been duly passed by the National Assembly and assented to by the President shall become law as an Act of the National Assembly and the words of enactment shall be: “Enacted by the President and the National Assembly”.
(6) The President shall cause Acts of the National Assembly to be published in the Gazette within thirty days of assent.
(7) No Act of the National Assembly shall come into operation until it has been published in the Gazette, but the Act or some other Act of the National Assembly may provide for the postponement of its coming into force.
(8) Nothing in this section shall prevent an Act of the National Assembly from conferring on any person or authority the power to make subsidiary legislation.  

Introduction of Bills And motion  Article 101.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, a Bill or motion may be introduced in the National Assembly by a member of the Cabinet or by a member of the National Assembly and the National Assembly shall give consideration to Bills and motions so introduced.
(2) No Bill, other than a Bill referred to in sub-section (5), shall be introduced into the National Assembly unless it is accompanied by an explanatory memorandum setting out in detail the policy and principles of the Bill, the defects which it is intended to remedy and the necessity for its introduction.
(3) No Bill, other than a Bill referred to in sub-section (5), shall be introduced into the National Assembly unless it has been published in the Gazette, and such publication has been made at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction: Provided that where the President certifies that the enactment of the Bill is required in the public interest as a matter of urgency, the Bill may be introduced notwithstanding that it has not been published fourteen days beforehand, but the Speaker shall, on the introduction of the Bill, cause a vote to be taken in the National Assembly without debate on a motion to give consideration to the Bill notwithstanding that the said period of fourteen days has not expired.
(4) Without prejudice to the power of the National Assembly to make any amendment (whether by the increase or reduction of any tax or charges, or the amount of any payment or withdrawal, or otherwise), the National Assembly shall not give consideration to a Bill that in the opinion of the person presiding makes provision for-
  1. the imposition of taxation or the alteration of taxation;
  2. the imposition of any charges on the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of The Gambia or the alteration of any such charge;
  3. the payment, issue or withdrawal from the Consolidated Revenue Fund or any other public fund of The Gambia of moneys not charged thereon or any increase in the amount of such payment, issue or withdrawal; or
  4. the composition or remission of any debt due to the Government;
(5) when a Bill is introduced into the National Assembly, it may be allocated to an appropriate committee for examination, and a report made thereon to the National Assembly.  

Additional functions of the National assembly  Article 102.
In addition to the other powers conferred on the National Assembly by this Constitution or any other law, the National Assembly may-
(a) receive and review reports on the activities of the Government and such other reports as are required to be made in accordance with this Constitution;
(b) review and approve proposals for the raising of revenue by the Government;
(c) examine the accounts and expenditure of the Government and other public bodies funded by public moneys and the reports of the Auditor General thereon;
(d) include in a Bill a proposal for a referendum on an issue of national concern defined in the Bill, or
(e) advise the President on any matter which lies within his or her responsibility.

PART 4: PROCEDURE IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

Presiding in the National Assembly  Article 103.
The Speaker shall preside at any sitting of the National Assembly-
(a) in the absence of both the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, or
(b) in the absence of both the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, such member of the National assembly as the National assembly may elect for the purpose.

Vacancy and  quorum Article 104
(1) The National Assembly may act notwithstanding any vacancy in its membership (including any vacancy not filed when the National assembly first meets after a general election).
(2) The quorum of the National Assembly at the commencement of any sitting is one half of all the members. If, subsequently thereto, objection is taken by any member that there are present in the National Assembly (besides the person presiding) less than on quarter o fall the member, and the person presiding is so satisfied, he or she shall immediately adjourn the sitting.  

Language in the  National Assembly Article 105
The business of the National Assembly shall be conducted in the English language or any other language prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.  

Voting in the National Assembly  Article 106
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution, any matter proposed for decision in the National assembly shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting.
(2) The person presiding in the National Assembly shall have neither an original nor a casting vote and if on any question before the National Assembly the votes are equally divided, the motion shall be deemed to have been rejected
(3) Any member of the National Assembly who has a direct pecuniary interest in any matter proposed for discussion in the National Assembly shall declare the same to the Speaker and the vote of any such member on such a matter shall be disallowed and he or she shall be deemed not to have voted.  

Unqualified Person sitting Or voting  Article 107
Any person who sits or cotes in the National Assembly knowing or having reasonable grounds for knowing that the he or she is not entitled to do so shall be liable to such penalty as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, which penalty may be recovered by suit by the Attorney- General

Regulation In the National Assembly  Article 108
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution the National Assembly may regulate its own procedure and, in particular, may make standing orders for the conduct of its own proceedings.
(2) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution or in any other law, no decision, order or direction of the National Assembly or any of its Committees or the Speaker relating to the Standing Orders of the National Assembly, or to the application or interpretation of Standing Orders, or any act done by the National Assembly or the Speaker under any Standing Orders, shall be enquired into by any court.  

Committees of National assembly  Article 109
(1) The National Assembly shall appoint –
  1. a Public Appointment Standing committee
  2. a finance and Public Accounts Standing Committee;
  3. a Standing Committee of Privileges;
  4. a Standing Committee on Defence and Security, and such other standing or order committees as it considers necessary for the exercise of its functions.
(2) Committees may be appointed-
  1. to investigate or inquire into the activities or administration of ministries or departments of the Government and such investigation or inquiry may extend to making proposals for legislation or
  2. to investigate any matter of Public importance.
(3) For the purpose of effectively performing its functions, each of the committees shall have all of the powers, rights and privileges as are vested in the High Court at a trial in respect of -
  1. enforcing the attendance of witnesses and examining them on oath, affirmation or otherwise;
  2. compelling the production of documents; and
  3. the issue of a commission or request to examine witnesses abroad.
Contempt of the  Natonal Asembly Article 110.
Any Act or omission which obstructs or impedes the National Assembly in the performance of its functions or which obstructs or impedes any member or officer of the National assembly in the discharge of his or her duties of affronts the dignity of the National Assembly shall be a contempt of the National Assembly and, in addition to any liability in respect thereof under the criminal law, the offender shall be liable to reprimand or admonition by the National assembly, and if the offender is a member of the National Assembly, suspension or expulsion from the National Assembly.  

The National Assembly service  Article 111
(1) There shall be a National assembly Service to provide services and support for the National Assembly. The National Assembly Service shall form part of the public service and its members shall be appointed by the National assembly after consultation with the Public Service Commission
(2) The National Assembly shall establish an authority to supervise the National assembly Service. The authority shall consist of-
  1. the Speaker as Chairman;
  2. four other members of the National Assembly who shall be appointed by the Speaker acting in accordance with the advice of a committee of the National Assembly; and
  3. the Clerk of the National assembly who shall be secretary of the authority.
(3) The Clerk of the National Assembly shall be the administrative head of the National assembly Service.
(4) In addition to its other functions, the National Assembly Service shall provide members of the National assembly with facilities for the drafting of Bills and the obtaining of such reasonable information from the relevant Government department as may be required for that purpose.  

PART 5: RESPONSIBILITIES, PRIVILEDGES AND IMMUNITIES

Responsibilities  of members  Article 112.
The responsibilities of the members of the National Assembly shall include the following-
(a) all members shall maintain the dignity of the National Assembly both during the sittings of the National Assembly and in their acts and activities outside the National;
(b) all members shall regard themselves as servants of the people of The Gambia desist from any conduct by which they seek improperly to enrich themselves or alienate themselves from the people, and shall discharge their duties and functions in the interest of the nation as a whole and in doing so, shall be influenced by the dictates of conscience and the national interest.

Freedom of speech  and debate Article 113.
There shall be freedom of speech and debate in the National Assembly and that freedom shall not be impeached or questioned in any court or place outside the National assembly.  

Privilege of the National Assembly   Article 114.  
Without prejudice to the generality of section 113, no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted against a member of the  National assembly in any court or other place outside the National Assembly by reason of anything said by him or her in the National assembly.  

Immunity service of process and arrest   Article 115.  
No civil or criminal process issuing from any court or other place outside the National Assembly shall be served on or executed in relation to a member of the National Assembly while he or she is on his or her way to, attending or returning from any proceeding of the National Assembly.  

Immunity from witness summons  Article 116.  
Neither any member of the National Assembly nor the clerk of the National Assembly shall be compelled while attending the National Assembly to appear as a witness in any court or place.  

Immunity from jury service  Article 117.  
Neither any member of the National assembly nor the Clerk of the National assembly shall be required to serve as on a jury court. outside the National Assembly.  

Immunity for Publication of  Proceedings Article  118.  
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, no person shall be  under any civil or criminal liability in respect of the publication of-
(a) the text or a summary of any report, papers, minutes, votes or proceedings of the National Assembly’
(b) a contemporaneous report of the proceedings of the National assembly, unless it is shown that the publication was effected maliciously or otherwise in want of good faith.

Privileges of  witnesses  Article 119.
(1) Every person summoned to give evidence or to produce any paper, book, record, or other document before the National Assembly or any committee of the National Assembly shall be entitled, in respect of his or her evidence or the production of such document as the case may be, to the same privileges as if he or she were appearing before a court.
(2) Where the President or any member of the Cabinet certifies that the disclosure of the contents of any document sought by the National assembly or a committee of the National Assembly will be injurious to the public interest or prejudicial to the security of the State, the National assembly or such committee shall only give consideration to such document in private and under such conditions as will prevent the disclosure of the contents of such document outside the National Assembly or the committee as the case maybe, and shall not publish the document or its contents.
(3) An answer by a person to a question put by the National Assembly shall not be admissible evidence against him or her in any civil or criminal proceedings outside the National assembly other than proceedings of perjury brought under the criminal law.