Exclusion of Secularism Still a Concern

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By Ousainou J Sawaneh (Ojee)

The exclusion of secularism in the new draft Constitution has still been a concern to some Gambians as the Constitutional Review Commission set to establish a new Republican Constitution for the Gambia.

The CRC on Saturday 30th November,2019 engaged Gambians in Banjul for the second time to afford them the opportunity to propose recommendations for incorporation into the draft constitution.

Despite the explanation by the CRC chairman on the subject matter for not including the secular in the new draft Constitution, some Gambians show great concern that the Gambia might be changed to an Islam state like what former President Yahya Jammeh did.

Moses Mendy a concern citizen has reiterated great concern over the exclusion of Secularism in the new draft Constitution adding that the CRC should know that the Gambia belongs to all Gambians and all religions and everyone has equal rights in the country so that to “encourage national cohesion and to promote unity” he said.

He challenged the Constitutional Review Commission that the exclusion of secular state in the new draft Constitution is in the interest of a particular group. He alleged

He also call on the CRC to include the secular state in the new Constitution to avoid division in the country. He said the CRC should work towards their mandate to avoid division.

Moses Sonko further spoke on the removal of Cadi court to bring in Sharia law in the draft Constitution. He said this is a clear sign that shows the country can be changed to an Islamic state.

Luie Mendy has also raised concern on the exclusion of secular state, and said the new Constitution should come with secular state not sovereign republic.

He recommended that the CRC to revisit the draft constitution and to ensure that Secularism is captured in the final constitution for the sake of peaceful co-existence in the country.
He further call on the Gambians to be united and work towards the development of the country.

Responding to the concerns on the exclusion of Secular state, the Vice Chairperson Madam Hawa Sisay Sabally reiterated that the CRC is not standing on any position to defend any religion in the country, adding that the CRC is working towards their mandate, which she said calls for inclusiveness, ownership, participation and transparency

She added that everyone raised their interest about the Constitution adding that in the preamble of the draft, it is stated “recognising and appreciating our values as a people of diversity, collectively declare and affirm our duties and responsibilities as citizens of The Gambia and our love and commitment to each other to Foster and promote national unity, cohesion and peace” she said

On his part Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow QC said the secular section has been in the constitution, reiterating the fact that shouldn’t divide the Gambians.

Jallow said the Cadi law is not different from the Sharia law, “they are all the same” he said

He added that the CRC have looked into many Constitutions across the world, in order to make sure that the draft Constitution that reflects the thought of all Gambians.

The CRC Chairman further said that the process is to engage Gambians to afford them the opportunity to give in their views on the new draft constitution adding everybody is entitle to his/ her opinion.

Among others speakers was the Deputy Mayor of Banjul Omar BJ who has expressed disappointment on the low turnout of Banjulians in the final consultation of the CRC.
He said this is an important national issue which needs the participation of all the citizens, adding the CRC second phase consultation will afford the Gambians to finally bring in their recommendation on what they want to see in the final constitution.

Muhammad Jah welcomes the inclusion of sign language in the draft “we the people with hard of hearing now feel that we part of the Gambia” he said.

He call on the CRC to include specifically Gambian Sign Language while reiterating the fact that anybody can come with his own different from the one they understand.