Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Is the EU adopting the Right Approach on the Constitutional Impasse?

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

An attempt to see the executive when a matter was laid before the National Assembly, did not appear to be the right approach to take in a political environment where the executive was being agitated in some quarters to defy the EU regarding gay rights.

There is unparalleled degree of political posturing in the Gambia and their request may have given the executive the opportunity to show that he is not under anyone’s control. Of course the national interest should dictate otherwise.

In fact, those opposed to the draft constitution out of principle or ignorance did create more suspicion that the Constitution harboured provisions on gay rights leading to sermons by misled religious leaders for the draft Constitution to be rejected.

Gambia has enough principled and intelligent thinkers capable of steering the debate on constitutional reform.

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Hence the development partners should not give the impression that constitutional reform is exclusively an executive driven agenda. Such reform could only succeed if it is a people driven agenda since a referendum is ultimately envisaged.

Consultation has already started at the National level and the EU should recognise such national initiative.

The following is a statement indicating concern:

Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell on the current political situation.

The European Union has been at the forefront of support to the democratic transition in The Gambia since 2017 and to the reforms aiming at entrenching democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Over the last months, it has observed with growing concern a marked slowdown in the pace of the reform process and in particular noted the recent important setback with the rejection of the draft new draft new Constitution. It is key for the 2021 Presidential elections to take place on the basis of a new social contract.

The constitutional review process is linked to other pillars of the democratic transition, in particular the transitional justice process with the Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), as well as the Security Sector Reform (SSR). It therefore remains important to lay the foundations for the follow-up of these processes. Moreover, taking forward other significant reforms, such as the revision of the Public Order Law, media and access to information laws prior to the 2021 Presidential elections, requires decisive Government action.

The European Union calls upon the Government to take the lead in building the necessary national consensus around the future direction of the democratic transition, with a new Constitution at its core.

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