By Nelson Manneh
Dodou Jah, the Deputy Spokesperson of the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) Monday, 21st September made critical comments of the draft new constitution that seeks to usher in a third republic.
Jah said the 1997 Constitution does not promote dictatorship adding the message being put across by some people that voting against the draft means inviting dictatorship is not correct.
“This new constitution is not what is going to give us a bright future,” he said, adding the views and opinions of the people don’t reflect in the Draft Constitution.
Jah argued that the 1997 Constitution is not a bad constitution adding a new constitution was not needed, adding instead amendments could have been made on the 1997 Constitution.
“Coming up with a new Constitution does not mean that the 1997 Constitution is bad. What was expected is for any bad or draconian law in the 1997 constitution to be changed and taken for a referendum for the people to decide, I don’t think there was a need for the whole 1997 constitution to be discarded and a new constitution to be drafted,” Jah said.
Jah said the draft constitution has undemocratic provisions such as making it mandatory for all registered political parties to submit their financial and audit reports to the Independent Electoral Commission or else it will be deregistered.
“This new Draft Constitution under human rights has made it open; that all religions will be accepted, this should be defined. We all know what religion is if you say all, people will form religion, They will enact their own religious belief and push it for it to be accepted, I don’t think the Gambia is such a society,” he said.
He said the days of the previous regime cannot be called ‘dark days’ because it is those dark days that gave the Gambia a university among other developments.
“Saying the CRC process was inclusive, I disagree with that because what people wanted is not in the Draft Constitution. When the first draft was published, people outlined a lot of things but the CRC ignored them and yet some people are saying it is transparent and inclusive,” Jah said.
He said some of the clauses in the draft constitution give the judiciary powers that are not given to the President and members of the National Assembly. He added that elected representatives should be empowered more than the appointed people like judges.