By Yankuba Jallow & Nelson Manneh
Honourable Fabakar Tombong Jatta, the interim leader of APRC said on Wednesday the end product of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) which is the 2020 Draft Constitution was useless.
“The amount of money does not matter if the end product was good for people, but how can you say you spent D116 million and the end product is useless. That is wastage and that wastage was caused by them,” he said.
Jatta was speaking to the press on Wednesday, 30th September 2020 at Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) head office in Manjai.
“They want to capture their individual interest at the expense of the vast majority of Gambians. We would rather waste D116 million rather than have a haphazard document that does not go to address the aspiration of the Gambian people,” he said.
He said the 1997 Constitution has very progressive provisions and the powers of the Government are driven from the people.
The ex-Majority Leader of the National Assembly said the rejected 2020 Draft Constitution would have brought constitutional crisis in the country if the people have allowed it to pass.
He said APRC has issues with over fifty provisions of the Draft Constitution including clauses 115 (dealing with appointment of ministers), 97 (dealing with second round of voting), 101 (dealing with election petition to the Supreme Court), 116 (2) (e), 141 (1) (h) and (j) and 144 (3) among other provisions.
Foroyaa will provide a detail report on the provisions as mentioned by the APRC interim leader, Honourable Fabakar Tombong Jatta.
APRC Press Conference
Honourable Jatta said the country is at a crossroad and it is unfortunately difficult to see light to peace, progress and prosperity.
“Our current predicament is as a result of the collective failure of the entire Coalition leadership who allow their personal ambitions and greed to override the interest of the Gambian people,” he said.
He said when the Coalition Government came into being in 2017 it was almost a UDP [United Democratic Party] Government. He detailed that the President referred to the UDP Secretary General and Leader, Lawyer Ousainou Darboe as his Godfather. He said Darboe refused the three year agreement as he supported the President to complete his five year mandate in accordance with the 1997 Constitution.
“A lot of things happened and a lot of things were said. Together they coined the strategy for the Coalition Government,” he said.
He said the Coalition did unlawful things against APRC all geared towards vengeance. He said Haruna Jatta died but until today the State has failed to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. He said some Coalition supporters who were coming from Independence celebration clashed with some residents of Kanfenda, but the police ended up arresting 50 residents including pregnant women, old age and school children. He added that the properties [assets] of former President Yahya Jammeh were sold unlawfully by the Government.
“Most of the leaders of the Coalition, as per their deeds and utterances, were blinded by their sentiments, emotion and unrelenting urge for vengeance,” he said, adding “these are not qualities of good leaders.”
He said good leaders rise above sentiments, emotion and the urge for vengeance.
He said the 2016 election showed the Coalition which is a composition of seven political parties and some independent politicians scored less than 45 per cent of the total votes cast.
“The vast majority of Gambians are not in support of the Coalition Government. It is a minority government. They became leaders because it is legally provided for in the 1997 Constitution,” he said.
He maintained for their 22 years rule in the country, they have never formed a minority government – not even for once.
“We were always 50+1 per cent at all times. So they [the Coalition] benefitted from a minority government; meaning the vast majority of Gambians don’t accept them,” he said.
He said the greatest challenge the country has in the drafting of the constitution were the leaders of UDP and GMC [Gambia Moral Congress] who were with the belief that the 1997 Constitution is a Yahya Jammeh Constitution and he owns it.
“The 1997 Constitution is a legacy of Yahya Jammeh’s government. It was drafted by Gambians and it was presented to the people in a referendum,” he said.
Honourable Jatta argued that the achievements of the APRC Government cannot be erased by anyone.
“It is written in an indelible ink in the history of the country,” he said.
He said prior to the coming of the APRC Government there were no senior secondary schools built by the Gambia Government. He said in 1994, there were only 13 high schools in the country but they were all private schools.
“In 22 years, Yahya Jammeh’s Government built one hundred and thirty high schools which Jawara’s Government couldn’t do in 30 years,” he said.
He said the 30-year reign of the PPP Government couldn’t build any hospitals adding the only two existing hospitals were Basang and RVTH which were both built by the colonial masters.
He said they brought GRTS and empowered the youth to participate in elections by lowering the age for voting from 21 years to 18 years. He said during the PPP era, children born to Gambian women were not regarded as Gambians, but when the APRC came, the 1997 Constitution brought the balance and empowered Gambian women. He added that they built the North Bank road from Barra to Passamas.
“We have a legacy that cannot be erased by anybody whether you like it or not,” he said.
“APRC salutes the heroic and gallant National Assembly Members who voted down the 2020 Draft Constitution. I assure you that you will be on the right side of history,” he said.
He said the Victim Center wrote to the United Nations Secretary General expressing their dismay on the decision of the National Assembly who voted down the Draft Constitution.
“It looks like the very limited people who called themselves victims believe that they are more powerful than the Gambian population. It is very ironical. The very verdict of the people cannot be respected and they want to send to the UN and a lot of other institutions making allegations that cannot be substantiated,” he said.