By: Kebba AF Touray
The Gambia’s Justice Minister, Dawda Jallow, has told the members of the Human Rights and Constitutional Matters Committee of the National Assembly, that the Government is committed in reintroducing the draft constitution in the parliament.
He made this disclosure yesterday during his appearance before the said Committee, to provide an update to the Committee members as per his Ministry, and the implementation of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission (TRRC) Recommendations.
“The government is committed in reintroducing the Draft Constitution into the Sixth Legislature for your consideration”, he told the lawmakers.
Highlighting some of the key steps they have taken soon after the rejection of the Draft Constitution in the legislature, he detailed that soon after the Draft Constitution was rejected, they realised that the nation focused mainly on the product (the document) and did not pay much attentions to the process of getting the document approved.
“That is the political process. I think we did not equally give attention to the fact that it is a political document and it has to go through political process to get it done and we filed in the process. We get a good product, but we couldn’t get it through the political process”, he added.
He said that they have learnt swiftly from that soon after its rejection, and that was why they launched a political dialogue around the Draft Constitution, during which they had series of meetings bringing political leaders together, with the intervention of former Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan.
This according to him, culminated into taking all the political leaders to Abuja, and look at the document, stating that in view of all the views and expressions made in the document, at the end of the day, it is politicians that will decide, whether to approve or disapprove the said document.
He said that they did not give them the required role in the process, while reminding members of the Committee he said “when the Draft came out and was submitted to the Executive, there was a big campaign dubbed Don’t touch our Draft Constitution.”.
“In the end we lost the baby and the birth water. Could we have allowed the executive, national assembly to edit one or two small things, but yet we have constitution, than telling them that don’t change anything and pass it as it is”, he said.
However, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice stated that he has also realised that certain political leaders, don’t like certain things in the Draft Constitution, and that came out during their consultations, saying “during the consultation, the political parties that were presumably in support of the Draft, started saying there are certain things in the Draft Constitution they don’t like”.
He said they (political leaders) came together and had adjusted it, but that they had to take an informed position, whether or not it is going to come in that format, or subjected to another popular debate and consultations.
“To answer your question, yes government is committed in reintroducing the Draft Constitution and I hope sooner than later you will have an opportunity during your tenure, to have the opportunity of debating that Constitution”, he told the Members of the Human Rights and Constitutional Matters Committee