By Nelson Manneh
The Constitution Review Commission (CRC) on Saturday November 30th 2019, commenced public consultations on the new draft Constitution in Banjul.
The Commission was set up by President Barrow to review, draft and deliver a new Constitution to Gambians within 18 months. The drafting stage has been accomplished by the Commission and a review of the draft has commenced, giving Gambians chance to scrutinize and give their opinions as citizens on what they want to be included in the final draft due for submission to the President.
At the Banjul meeting, the Chairperson of the CRC Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow said the new Constitution caters for all Gambians, whether Christian or Muslim, handicap or able bodied.
On her part Hawa Sesay Sabally, Vice-chairperson of the CRC said they have considered that no faith should feel threatened. “Some of us are from families that have both Christian and Muslim members. So we will make sure that all faiths are catered for and no one will jeopardize with what you Gambians want to be included in the new Constitution,” she noted; that in the new draft Constitution it is indicated that Gambia is a multi-party state which cannot be changed even by Members of the National Assembly.
In the same vein, the Gambian Diaspora has also called on the CRC to consider them as bona fide citizens of the country without condition.
“We are descendants of this country and we are ready to come back home. So the Constitution should cater for as citizens without conditions,” Matthew Hypolite, a Gambian living in the diaspora told Commissioners at the Banjul meeting.
“When I came to the Gambia for the first time, I feel like being at home. In Europe, we are considered aliens when we are not,” he said. The Diaspora Gambian said they want to see themselves as citizens of their country and enjoy the same rights and freedoms as other Gambians.
“If we are not considered here, then where do you think we belong? We want to be recognized as Gambians because here is where we belong,” he affirmed.
Omar Touray, the Deputy Mayor of Banjul in his contribution said the Local Government Authorities should be empowered by the Constitution because they work directly with the people.
‘‘If people have issues, it is difficult for them to relay them to the Executive directly. So they come to us,’’ he said. The Deputy Mayor further contributed that if anyone wants to be a citizen, two of the person’s parents should be Gambians; that otherwise it will be very easy for one to be a Gambian which he said can affect the nation as time goes on.
Adama Mbye another native of Banjul said the Administrative Regions of the Gambia should be increased to eleven.
“In the 1997 Constitution, it indicates seven Administrative Regions. But we should know that the population in each region has increased and therefore Administrative Regions should also be increased,” he said.
Habib Nyang on his part said all sectors involved and associated with the country’s development, should be empowered by the new Constitution.
“In the previous Government, it is not that the Constitution was not good, but our leaders tampered with it to meet their taste which was not fair,” he said.
Nyang said the new Constitution should protect itself from such and make sure that no person or group of people can tamper with it.
The CRC will continue public consultations in Essau in the North Bank Region of the Gambia today.