Dual citizens label law denying them right to contest for presidency as draconian

Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow (Chairperson)

By Yankuba Jallow

Some Gambians living in the Diaspora want the National Assembly to amend the provision of the final draft constitution which deny them the right to vie for the offices of the President and Vice President.

Section 93 of the draft constitution provides that for one to become the President, he or she must be a Gambian by birth. Section 94 provides thus “a person is disqualified for election as President if he or she holds the citizenship or nationality of, or in any other manner owes allegiances to, a country other than The Gambia.”

A dual citizen is a person who has the citizenship or nationality of more than one country.

Mr Taha Jallow, the President of the Organisation for the Development of Serrekunda and Beyond said these provisions of the draft constitution deny them, their children and the generations that will follow them the right to contest in Presidential elections. He said they have discussed the provisions of the draft constitution and found out they have been denied the chance to vie for the office of the President and the Vice President.

“We have been sidelined. How can we be allowed to vote and yet we cannot be voted for?” Jallow quizzed, adding “it does not make sense.”

He told Foroyaa that the Gambians in the Diaspora are contributing greatly to the development of the country.

He said, as Gambians with dual citizenship, they feel like they are treated like second class citizens in the land of their birth, The Gambia.

Jallow said there are over a hundred and fifty thousand Gambians living in the Diaspora where most of whom are living with their children.

“We are going all out to ensure that we have the right to be elected as Presidents. If we cannot be president in our country of birth where can we become president,” he said.

Jallow said in the United States of America, where he is residing, he can contest in all public offices except the offices of President and Vice President.

“Why can’t we have such privilege in our country of birth?” Jallow asked.

Jallow enjoined lawmakers to ensure that these two provisions are amended to ensure Gambians in the Diaspora are not discriminated. He called on the lawmakers to give their weight against these two provisions and amend them accordingly because they exclude them from contesting for the office of President.

“This draconian law should be removed for the interest of the people in the Diaspora who contribute enormously in the socio-economic development of The Gambia,” one Lamin Bah told Foroyaa.

Bah added that such laws are bad laws which should not be entertained in our new found democracy.

Other Gambians in the Diaspora expressed similar sentiments and they all called on the lawmakers not to allow the draft new constitution to pass without amending the two provisions.