BY ALMAMO KAMASO
The honorable minister for Justice Dawda Jallow on Wednesday 16th September 2020 laid the 2020 Bill before Members of the National Assembly to promulgate the Draft and repeal the 1997 Constitution.
Soon after the Bill was presented, the Speaker open the floor for members to take part in a debate on the merits and principles of the Bill.
Hon Omar Ceesay of , reminded members of a whooping sum of D116M spend on the draft constitution and that such an amount must to be wasted by totally rejecting the draft, just because it did not suite an individual.
Hon Bakary Camara of Kiang Central was the first to be given the floor, he said the draft has captured the wishes of and aspirations of the Gambians as the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) did a wide and extensive consultations both within and without. He mentioned some of the progressive sections such as Ant-Corruption Commissions and others Commissions, as merits. Camara call for the adoption of the draft as it people’s constitution.
Independent Member Hon Maggasy of Basse said it is important that our languages are recognized by our constitution, but that is not the case with this constitution. The honorable members said he would like to see that in the Constitution.
Hon Seedia Jatta said he would like to see a constitution referring to our languages as national languages rather than referred to them as local languages. He commended the CRC for a very good job. Jatta said it’s historic that members are debating on the Bill, as the 1997 constitution was never brought before law makers and its content was distorted.
Hon Omar Ceesay Niamina East said he could recall when the National Assembly assigned the members of the CRC to carve a constitution for the country. The Niamina East member told members that a constitution is not for individuals or for a particular political setting. He asked a question, that if we were to reject the draft because of certain controversy that did not suite one person or another? No was an emphatic answer he said.
Hon Omar Ceesay reminded members to take note of the huge amount of tax payers’ money spends on this draft, a whooping D116M for that matter. “If this Bill is rejected history will judge us negatively” He strongly warns all members not to poison the minds of people, if the draft reaches a referendum.
In all before the sitting was adjourn, 16 members did made their interventions. The 16 came from all sides of the Assembly.
What seem to standout clearly so far is that the Bill is hailed to be one of the best constitutions in our history and that it has an edge over the 1997 Constitution.
Some issues were raised by some members concerning the inclusion of the President’s 2016-2021, term as part of his next term if he has to win the 2021 elections.
Hon Alhagie S Darboe of Brikama North said when the 1965 constitution came into existence and ushered us into the first republics, Sir Dawda Jawara was first president , and in 1997 the country has it second republic and President Jammeh became the first president of that republic, therefor if the 2020 constitution comes into existence President Barrow will be the first president of that republic so the counting should start from there.
However the idea of a two term limit is hailed by many of those who spoke as welcoming development. It is the view of some speakers that Secular needs to be mentioned.
Many of the speakers referred to the members of the CRC as assets of the country and that we must not trivialized them as they did a great job each of them are people who have something to offer.