Constitutional review in a republic is about consensus building and not about casting aspersions and recriminations. Each sovereign citizen has a right to protection or personal liberty. The fundamental rights are clear and no one can obstruct another person’s right to freedom of belief and worship, including the practice of one’s religion and faith. No republican constitution will ever deprive a person of such rights.
Two debates are now making many people uncomfortable. After tremendous inspiration marked by the promise to give The Gambia a constitution that is far better than the 1997 Constitution and that will enable the Gambian people to have a new start in democratic governance, emotions are now flaring up on the issue of citizenship by birth and whether ‘secular’ should be written in the constitution or not.
Positions have been taken without an enriching debate on what is best for the vast majority of Gambians. It is therefore important for the Gambian people to ask themselves the fundamental question that would have to be answered before we could build a republic.
What type of Gambia do we want? How do we build a Gambia where each Gambian irrespective of your ethnolinguistic origin, religion, gender would be able to live in liberty, dignity, prosperity and happiness and in full protection to practice one’s belief without any hindrance or interference from the state or any other person. This is what should preoccupy the national discourse.
A national debate should start from the issues that unite us and then proceed to seek consensus on what could divide us. Unless this approach is taken, we will have a divided nation instead of a united one. Foroyaa is taking note of all concerns being expressed on all sides of the national plane. We will see how the CRC will steer the ship of state to safer shores. Where it has difficulty, enlightened Gambians should be ready to step in to strengthen its oars so that we will be able to move in the right direction for posterity.
A debate must be guided by knowledge. Those who participate in debate without knowledge can only cause division and confusion.